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Two students say thanks to officials

Ashley Charnley | Monday, March 2, 2009

Two Saint Mary’s students traveled to the Indiana State House in Indianapolis last week to thank legislators for granting state money to students and ask that they continue to give their support.

As the dismal economy continues to make it more difficult for students to afford tuition, there are still options for financial aid available through the state, and many Saint Mary’s students take advantage of it.

Saint Mary’s freshmen Sarah Kletka and Alma Bravo joined 250 students from 20 other private and independent colleges on the Feb. 24 trip.

Kletka is a nursing major who is working two jobs to cover the cost of books and tuition at Saint Mary’s.

“I decided to go because this money is an integral part of my attendance at Saint Mary’s,” Kletka said. “I feel that it is my responsibility to represent those of us at Saint Mary’s who struggle to afford it and need every penny we are offered.”

Students receive the funds from the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI). Kletka said they were given the opportunity to meet with hometown legislators on the trip.

“Alma and I were very lucky that our representatives and senators actually came out of their sessions to speak with us,” she said. “We spoke with them on the issues of student financial aid grants, and student need for more financial aid.”

Students discussed the possible changes in funding over the coming years. Kletka said the legislators discussed a change in the quantity of funding for individual students, but not for the program as a whole.

“They explained that even though the amount of grant money may not decrease from year to year, the amount the student receives could possible decrease depending on how many students apply and need aid,” Kletka said.

Kletka and Bravo are not the only students who are given aid money from the state.

“Many of our students receive this important grant, and without it [they] might have not been able to attend a small private college,” Karen Johnson, Saint Mary’s vice president of student affairs said in a press release early last week. “The liberal arts education these women are getting at Saint Mary’s will allow them, as graduates, to be flexible and change with the times.”

Kletka is appreciative of the grant money she has received and the opportunity it gave her.

“I could never have afforded Saint Mary’s on my own, but with the generosity of Saint Mary’s, financial aid, state funding and numerous scholarships, I am here,” she said.