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Fort Wayne colleges address state's financial aid caps

Thursday, July 23, 2009 - 10:40 am

Local colleges are finding solutions to the cap that the state has placed on financial aid.

Indiana Tech announced Wednesday that the university will make up the difference from what it promised its students to what the state is actually providing.

“We've greatly increased our enrollment of students from within the state, and we're committed to helping them attain a college education,” President Arthur E. Snyder said in a news release. “We will dig deeper into our institutional aid funds to help them through this.”

The university had originally estimated a 10 percent drop in state grants to college students but found out Friday that the drop was actually 31 percent. The difference in aid for Indiana Tech students proved to be anywhere from $400 to $6,000.

Claudia Braman, executive director for the State Student Assistance Commission, said even though the commission received additional funding from the state in this budget, it wasn't enough to keep up with the increase in the number of students applying for aid.

“The money that we actually got had to be spread more thin,” she said.

Braman said they received 300,000 requests for aid this year, a 24 percent increase over the previous year. That meant a cap in aid for public schools at $4,206 and for private schools at $7,584. The previous year, that amount had been $6,096 for public schools and $10,992 for private schools.

Some other schools in the area did not have to respond to the cap with their own funds. Ivy Tech Community College said their tuition is so low, comparatively, that the caps didn't make a difference, and IPFW said that it planned for the worst.

“We prepared them for the absolute (worst), and now we can give them more,” said Mark Franke, associate chancellor for enrollment management, explaining that IPFW students will see about $900 additional dollars on their financial aid letters. Those new letters should be going out in about a week, he said.

The University of Saint Francis is currently working a plan for aid, but those details are not yet available.

Braman said that the caps only affect state grants, and students are still eligible for federal and institutional aid, as well as loans, scholarships and work release. But this may not be the end for state financial aid caps.

Braman said there is a good possibility that the caps could increase in future years.

“We don't know what the economy will do,” she said.