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Financial aid changes won’t hurt ND

Claire Heininger | Thursday, January 13, 2005

Notre Dame students who receive federal financial aid will not suffer as a result of recent changes to the government formula that determines aid eligibility, according to University administrators. The changes, which will take effect in the 2005-06 academic year, will mean reduced federal aid for some college students in many states, particularly New York, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin. But because Notre Dame is committed to meeting 100 percent of each student’s demonstrated need, the University will make up for any cuts in federal aid, said Joseph Russo, director of the Office of Financial Aid.”The impact in our mind is relatively modest,” Russo said. “We’re very blessed here that we do have resources, and we can make those commitments.”Approximately one-third of all Notre Dame undergraduates receive some federal financial aid – types of which include Pell Grants, college work-study, federally subsidized Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants – but not all will see their eligibility affected, Russo said. Depending on a student’s individual circumstances, the University will compensate for any reduced eligibility for one form of aid with aid from other sources, Russo said.And while he didn’t want to belittle students at other universities who will be hurt by the changes, he said speculation about the decrease has been “blown way out of proportion.””It’s somewhat of a political issue … and I do think it’s been totally exaggerated,” he said. “It is not going to change the [national] demographics of who’s going to college.”The cuts’ impact on Notre Dame’s student demographic goals will likely be negligible, said Dan Saracino, director of the Office of Admissions.Because the core financial aid promise remains the same, the changes “are not going to hurt us in our efforts to increase and maintain socioeconomic diversity at Notre Dame,” he said.”The only way it could impact us would be indirectly, if the public reads in the press about this big cut, they may just honestly say there’s no way I can afford Notre Dame now and they won’t apply,” Saracino added. “But if they talk with anyone [at the University] who knows about admissions and financial aid, they’ll realize that it isn’t going to stop their ability to come to Notre Dame.”The government expects to save $300 million in the 2005-06 academic year as a result of the adjustments, which will cause at least 1.3 million students nationwide to receive smaller Pell Grants. Though the formula is supposed to be updated annually, Russo said, the legislative changes will be the first in 18 months. “The political dynamic delayed it last year … no one wanted to be the bad guy,” he said. “[But] the adjustment has to happen, and we don’t believe it’s a show-stopper in terms of … students changing their minds.”