Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Funds From Students, No Funds From State

The reduction in state funding for education has caused economic turmoil for many students who depend on fixed tuition and enough money from loans and grants to provide adequate resources to pay for school, according to Lisa O’Donnell’s article in the Winston-Salem Journal titled N.C. colleges see jump in cancellations. The reduced state funding allowed universities to increase their tuition and many students are having a hard time making up for the loss in funds.

High tuition and changes in financial aid are causing a jump in registration cancellations. In fact, UNCG recently cancelled classes for 1300 students for unpaid bills. NC A&T cancelled classes for 541 students, and Winston-Salem State University saw an increase in cancellations this year.

According to financial aid experts at these local universities, students are not applying for financial aid on time, if at all, or their financial aid had not yet been packaged at the time of cancellation.

With schools such as ASU and UNC School of the Arts cancelling fewer registrations than previous years, it is evident that not all schools are suffering from the rise in tuition and lack of financial aid. However, it is difficult to ignore schools such as NC A&T in which 80% of the students qualify for need-based aid while the necessary funds becomes less available. So what will students do to remedy the lack of money for education?

As someone who didn’t have thousands of dollars set aside for school when it came time to go to college, I understand what it is like to need money from outside sources in order to fulfill the dream of a college education. I’ve had my fair share of waiting in the financial aid office or on the phone, just to be told more disappointing news of lack of funds or increased expenses.

I saw the affects of the lack of state funding for education firsthand last year. Friends who had previously gotten their education paid for with money to spare were now having to take out loans. They no longer qualified for grants because of the lowered maximum income level. Fortunately, they were able to get these loans to make up for the lack of money, but what about those who aren’t able to or don’t know how to go about it? Or what about those who don’t think the loan is worth it?

Not only has tuition increased since I first began college in 2008, but with the lack of funds comes a lack of classes available. It was difficult to find the necessary classes needed to complete my degree during my senior year. I knew I would be student teaching during the spring semester which meant no other classes for the rest of the year. However, I needed 19 hours for the fall semester and it felt like my school didn’t want me to graduate. That year, they decided to cap the maximum credit hours at 17. What about all those people that were in my same boat that needed that extra class? Plus, with a maximum amount of hours and limited classes, that meant that it would be virtually impossible for incoming freshman or even sophomores to graduate within the standard four year time period without going to summer school (if classes were available even then). After much protest, they changed their mind back to the normal 19 hours and all was well. But this is just one of the many examples that come from lack of money for education. It trickles down, causing us to spend more time getting our degree, which causes us to spend more money that we don’t really have, putting us in more debt in the end. What I want to know is if we do our part by getting in our financial aid packages on time, what will the state and the universities do for us? Will we continue to suffer with a lack of classes? Will capped credit hours per semester become a reality for universities across the nation?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions. I do, however, have some advice for those who are suffering from lack of financial aid:

  1. Contact the financial aid office at your school! No matter how long you have to wait in line or how long you have to stay on hold, it is worth every second! There are options available to you!
  2. Don’t be afraid to take out a loan. You may be eligible for a subsidized loan which won’t develop any interest until it is time for you to start paying on it. Debt for education is not bad debt like it would be if it was credit card debt. Having loans also helps you establish your credit if you pay your bills on time. This, in turn, will make it easier to purchase a home in the future. Your financial aid office will have the necessary info to make this happen.
  3. Apply for scholarships. Departments have scholarships available as well. Apply for all of them!
  4. Apply for FASFA as soon as possible. Each school has a different deadline, but the sooner you get it in, the better it will be. Check your financial aid status frequently on your school website.

For more information on financial aid, visit and
For more information on the Lisa O’Donnell’s original article, visit, search N.C. colleges see jump in cancellations.

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