State budget cuts could impact student financial aid for Ohio

Leighann McGivern

As Kent State and other Ohio public universities await Gov. John Kasich’s budget announcement, administrators speculate about how his decisions could affect student financial aid.

While no one knows for certain the nature or size of the potential budget cuts, Gregg Floyd, vice president of finance and administration, said he expects an impact on higher education funding.

“We really have no idea,” Floyd said. “We realize the governor has a very difficult task to balance an $8 billion budget deficit, so he’s going to have some very difficult decisions. We’re just not sure how big it will be.”

Nathaniel Choma, freshman integrated language arts major, said the governor’s potential budget cuts reflect a lack of support for the education system in America.

“As a future teacher, the governor’s actions concern me because one choice like this could affect me in my career as a high school teacher later in life,” Choma said.

Floyd said the university currently receives just over $100 million in state funding, under what is called the State Share of Instruction. The state determines the amount of money a university receives based on several factors, including enrollment numbers and the types of programs a university offers.

“It’s not like they’re going to say, ‘We have 12 universities, and we’re going to cut everything into twelfths,’” Floyd said. “It’s a formula that recognizes the size and nature of the university.”

Mark Evans, director of student financial aid, said any changes in financial aid would affect students throughout the country, not just those at Kent State.

“It affects the whole country,” said Evans. “It’s a federal change.”

Although Evans said he anticipates the budget cuts will have an impact on financial aid, he still encourages students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Upcoming Financial Aid Events

• “Financial Aid To Go”

o Student Center – First Floor

o Feb 8, 9, 10; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

• “College Goal Sunday”

o Franklin Hall

o Feb 13; 2 p.m.

• FAFSA Priority Deadline

o March 1

“This is financial aid awareness month across the country,” Evans said. “We’re out promoting to please be informed of the process, the application deadlines. We sent out an e-mail in the last few days to all admitted students to remind them to reapply for financial aid for the upcoming year.”

Kent State’s priority deadline for FAFSA completion is March 1.

Evans said the amount of aid a student receives is based upon an equation of cost of attendance per year versus how much of that total a student is able to pay. The average amount of financial aid a student receives across all eight campuses is $11,100.

“The whole reason that students complete the FAFSA is for the government to take a look at the family size, how many are in college, the income and the savings to determine, hypothetically, how much of those resources should a family be able to contribute towards these expenses,” Evans said.

If budget cuts are announced for higher education, Floyd said the president, along with the Board of Trustees, would jointly decide how the budget is constructed.

“We’ll certainly be looking at and trying to be careful in terms of cost management, but a large drop in state funding would likely translate into some impact on financial aid, certainly,” Floyd said.

Kayla Zatezalo, freshman crafts major, said she is concerned about the future of financial aid and tuition.

“I am concerned about further budget cuts because I heard that our tuition was already scheduled to increase next semester,” Zatezalo said. “All this makes me sorry that I didn’t vote.”

Evans said the university will be making its awards in March for the 2011-2012 academic year and will have to take any changes in budget into account.

“We would encourage students to come in and sit down with a financial aid representative and go through all of their options, whether its looking at some circumstances that are unique to their family or some of their loan options — the Bursar’s Office has a number of payment plans,” said Evans.

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected]