University sees increased interest in financial aid-seekers

Kelly Petryszyn

Economy provokes families to seek aid

Kent State’s financial aid office has seen a 35 percent increase in people attending financial aid programs this year compared to last year, said Mark Evans, director of student financial aid.

Evans said this increased interest is because of the economy.

“I think this is the same trend that is happening across the country because of the economic situation,” he said.

Yvonna Washington-Greer, assistant director of student financial aid, said the economy is driving more people to explore the aid options as well.

“A lot of people came to the events concerned about financing the college process,” she said.

An instance where this was evident was when the financial aid office had to stop taking reservations for two programs hosted Feb. 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh and Columbus for admitted students.

“We had to close our reservation list because we were at capacity,” Evans said.

At the program in Columbus, the office had 110 reservations for a room that only seated 100.

There have been more students submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There were 2,800 more applications for federal aid than last year, Evans said. This represents about an 8 percent increase in the amount of students applying for aid who are currently enrolled.

Incoming students have also expressed an increased interest in the financial aid process, he said.

Evans said students applying for aid have more specialized situations. There are families who have lost a job and received severance pay. There are also people who have been laid off a year ago and their unemployment money is drying up, among other situations. On next year’s FAFSA, there is a question about dislocated workers, or workers who got laid off, and 7.5 percent of applicants indicated they were a dislocated worker.

To inform students about aid, officials from the financial aid office are visiting high schools, hosting programs at Kent State and speaking at programs hosted by other organizations. There were two financial workshops in January and programs in Pittsburgh and Columbus. “College Goal Sunday” was also held as an event to the general public, and 120

people attended.

These programs are held “to ease the comfort level of the process of completing financial aid,” Washington-Greer said.

There have been occasions where there have been multiple requests for the financial aid office to attend a program on the same night. The office had to send four or five different people.

Through these programs, the office wants to communicate that “there are financing options available for all families out there,” Evans said.

The admissions office is also working in conjunction with the financial aid office to let students know “college is affordable,” said Mark Ledoux, associate director of admissions.

This year, financial representatives were at admitted student receptions hosted by the admissions office.

The staff at the financial aid office will meet to evaluate

the programs.

“Based on the success and attendance, (I) expect us to do more stuff on campus and off campus,” Evans said.

Contact student affairs reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].