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Northeastern forms financial aid strategy

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Published on February 11, 2009 in The Huntington News

With the current financial crisis, finding a student loan can be difficult. However, in an effort to counteract the struggle, university officials have developed four core focuses to help students find funding for tuition and board costs.

“Financial aid and grants have always been high,” said Senior Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Philomena Mantella said. “We want to make sure that the institution is available to those that want it and that they can sustain themselves to a degree. It’s a constant theme and area of focus, but this year in particular, since unemployment is up and lending is strained.”

The first focus is to move more towards direct student lending, Mantella said.

“Part of the economic shift is just more liquidity and less loans available,” Mantella said. “We want to make sure the students that rely on student loans have those resources secure.”

A retention fund will also be created so students have access to grant money if they have a drastic change in family income. This will ensure there’s money available to close the gap between the money they have secured and their tuition costs. Mantella said this is where a majority of additional university funding will go.

The third focus is on increasing scholarships, for which there has been active fundraising. These are sponsored by alumni, who also create the criteria for the scholarship recipients.

“A lot of people are offering funding as a recognition for students that have strong academics and characteristics,” Mantella said. “Those kinds of individual awards [alumni are offering] can range from very basic to very specific.”

Some students said they think increasing these funds is a positive step.

“I think it’s good because investing in education is a guaranteed return in the long term,” said senior electrical engineering major Jean Blanc. Blanc said he is currently on two scholarships.

The last part of the initiative emphasizes servicing students to make sure they are aware of the funds available to them, like holding financial aid workshops on campus.

“One of the things we want to do is make sure students think early enough to have everything available to them,” Mantella said.

By working on expanding each of these four sections regarding financial aid, finding funding for school should be easier for students, she said.

“What you have to think about is if you are out looking for all available options,” she said. “You have to think of a portfolio of opportunities, a lot of which the institution provides.”

To ensure financial security, when the university gives out initial scholarship and grant awards they are typically for all eight semesters to ensure the availability of these funds throughout students’ time in school.

“These steps are especially helpful for students paying for the majority of their schooling,” said sophomore chemical engineering major Emma Neirinckx.

“I really need help paying for school,” she said. “A lot of people need money, and I’m doing it mostly on my own besides my parents cosigning my loans. I know a lot of people in similar situations and they really need the extra help.”

Though Neirinckx said she’ has not applied for scholarships for next semester because she will be on co-op, more students than usual are projected to. Mantella said she expects an increase because of the economic conditions in comparison to last year.

“I think that if you project that, most institutions are finding an increase,” she said. “But if it’s in the single or double digits is to be determined at a later time.”

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Written by jdunccc

February 11, 2009 at 12:00 am

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