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College increases financial aid

Brittany VanSnepson | Monday, September 14, 2009

Pressures from the economic downturn have increased the demand for financial aid around the country, and Saint Mary’s is no exception.

The Director of Financial Aid for Saint Mary’s Kathleen Brown said in order to handle this increase, the College has raised their institutional money for scholarships by $2 million this year.

“We’ve kept the same standards for how we allocate aid. It’s all still based on need,” Brown said. “It’s just that families are needier this year.”

This trend can be seen in the two percent increase in students applying for financial aid, and it is only the beginning of the first semester.

As federally and college funded loans are increasing, students are receiving less support from the state of Indiana. As a result, there has been over a 30 percent increase in students who request a “special circumstance review,” Brown said.

These reviews are usually the result of students having unpaid medical bills or previous private school tuition expenses that need to be accounted for.

However, the Financial Aid Department has seen a decrease in students requesting expensive alternative loans.

“There is some good news,” Brown said. “There are smaller amounts of expensive alternative loans being taken out.”

Alternative loans are more expensive because they are not federally funded and thus have higher interest rates.

However, Brown noted students that opt for alternative loans are “are asking for larger amounts of money.”

Furthermore, there has been a dramatic increase in Federal Pell Grants, which go to the neediest students.

“[Around] 6.6 percent of the enrolled [students] are eligible,” Brown said. “Usually it fluctuates around 1 percent from year to year.”