Number of financial aid award letters at 7,000 and counting

June 29, 2010

Despite continued economic uncertainty, help is still available to make a college education more affordable and Indiana State University continues to work with students and families to find it.

With nearly two months to go before the start of fall classes, Indiana State has sent financial aid award letters to nearly 7,000 new and returning students and is continuing to process applications.

"When choosing a college, it is important for families to know how much assistance their students are eligible to receive. Therefore, we try to process and package aid for families as quickly as possible," said John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications.

Because that information is especially vital to students who are starting out, Indiana State's financial aid packets went to 2,900 new freshmen and 360 new transfer students in April and May. The university began sending letters this month to nearly 3,700 returning students.

At ISU, approximately three of every four students receive some form of combined financial assistance that may include grants, loans, scholarships or part-time employment, said Kim Donat, director of student financial aid.

"Through a combination of gift-aid and self-help, we can assist most of our high need families in finding ways to make college affordable and attainable," Donat said.

The federal Pell grant program has been expanded for the coming school year and is expected to assist 8.4 million students - about 617,000 more than last year - according to the U.S. Department of Education. The average grant for 2010-11 is expected to be $3,865.

First year college students can borrow up to $5,500 through a combination of subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans with interest rates as low as 5.6 percent. For qualified students, the interest is paid while the student is enrolled and seeking a degree, Donat said.

ISU also offers a payment plan that spreads over the course of the year the cost of tuition, housing and other fees.

While families should be prudent when it comes to borrowing, a four-year degree is a smart investment, Donat said.

"Not only does a bachelor's degree not depreciate, but in fact can grow in earning power over time. Today's college graduate can expect to earn on average, more than $1.6 million dollars over a lifetime. That's a huge return on an investment of less than $30,000 in tuition at ISU over
four years for Indiana residents," he said.

Students can begin the financial aid process at ISU and learn how much aid they qualify to receive by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance. The federal government has significantly overhauled the FAFSA, replacing the old six-page form with lots of redundant questions with a version that uses "skip logic" so students need to answer only questions that are relevant to their situation. The form is available online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

While the deadline has passed for state financial assistance, students may complete a FAFSA to apply for need-based federal assistance - including Pell grants and student loans - any time during the academic year.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Publications/Kim-Donat-financial-aid/120408kimdonatfinancialaid-79/430225072_qnCGC-L.jpg - Kim Donat, director of student financial at at Indiana State University, discusses financial aid options with a student.

Contact: Kim Donat, director, Office of Student Financial Aid, Indiana State University, 812-237-2215 or kim.donat@indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu