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Posts Tagged ‘Northeastern finances

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.”

Written by jdunccc

February 11, 2009 at 12:00 am

RSA passes bill calling for lower maximum housing rates

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Published on February 11, 2009 in The Huntington News

Last night the Resident Student Association (RSA) passed a piece of legislation challenging the university Board of Trustees’ plan to raise housing rates by 4.2 percent next year.

RSA’s legislation requested a cap of 3.6 percent.

The bill was almost passed unanimously with a vote of 61-1-0. The legislation also says it is possible for the increase to be less than 3.6 percent. This is possible, RSA members argued, because heating costs have significantly lowered since July 2008. There will also be additional revenue coming into the housing department because of Parcel 18′s completion, which is planned for June 30.

“There are some students that have plenty of money available,” Vice President for Housing Service Matthew Soleyn said. “The majority of students aren’t that lucky and are concerned about housing being unaffordable.”

The bill will continue to the Office of Student Affairs and eventually to the Board of Trustees for final votes, where RSA hopes it will continue to pass.

“I think the [SGA] Senate will have a lot of the similar debate RSA had and will pass,” Soleyn said. “I think the Code of Conduct Review Committee will see it’s what students want and that it’s in line with other educational institutions.”

Another bill was passed as well, reevaluating current sanctions of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), motioning that rather than a $100 fine for first offenses, students may opt to write a reflection essay. This action was prompted by the current economic crisis, Soleyn said, and RSA members argued that the $100 fine is ‘exorbitant’ to some students.

“We want the option instead of the fine because a lot of students don’t have the money for the fine,” Soleyn said. “Also, we looked at OSCCR and it said there was an educational goal, so having an educational option would be better for OSCCR the system.”

This led to a proposed amendment to the bill that would eliminate the option to write an essay, making the sanctions unchanged, and was narrowly defeated with a 28-31-2 vote, and then was passed 55-5-2.

“It seemed that a lot of people were concerned with eliminating the fine and allowing students to do an essay instead,” Soleyn said. “Also, [they were concerned] that it might not be effective and a lot of students would treat the essay as a joke.”

Additionally, RSA passed in the bill the ‘Good Behavior Policy’ which states that 12 months after a student’s first offense, if there are no further violations, students may apply to remove the offense from their permanent record.

A survey conducted by the Student OSCCR Assessment Committee (SOAC) showed that only 30 percent of students found the current sanctions to be appropriate to their violations. Only 18 percent of students surveyed said they felt that the current sanctions were educational.

The bill will be presented today to the Code of Conduct Review Committee as well as the Student Senate for review.

Written by jdunccc

February 11, 2009 at 12:00 am