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Massachusetts Students Brace For Record Tuition Increase

Massachusetts Students Brace For Record Tuition Increase

Last year the University of Massachusetts adopted a 15.8 percent increase on tuition. However, this was on paper only because at the same time they implemented this tuition increase, they also provided students with a one time “rebate” of $1,100 to offset the $1,500 increase (netting students with only a $400 increase last year). This coming academic year the one-time rebate is following suit with it’s intent of being ONE-TIME ONLY and will not be available to students and thus they will be absorbing the full 15.8 percent increase that was put into place last year.  Is that clear? I know.. clear as mud…

Basically, the trustees for UMass are keeping tuition and fees the same (a freeze) as last year but they are not providing the additional discounting (rebate) so the bottom-line cost for the families is increasing. The tuition freeze part of that statement sounds great but the end result is not so palpable for families and students that are trying to make education affordable.

After the Board of Trustees for UMass approved the tuition freeze for next year, UMass president Jack Wilson stated that: “I don’t think there was much of a prospect to lower the fees. I think it was a great achievement not to have an additional fee increase over that which we had established last year.’’

The new tuition and fee rate for the 2010-2011 academic year for Massachusetts residents is $11,732 and room and board charges are $8,814. Out of state residents can anticipate paying $23,628 for tuition.

If you are a University of Massachusetts student and you find yourself scrambling to try and make ends meet and cover your increased tuition expenses, please don’t hesitate to use CheapScholar.org as a resource for ideas to help lighten the impact on your checkbook.

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Linn State College Drops Fee Per Governor’s Request

Linn State College Drops Fee Per Governor’s Request

The state of Missouri has had their fair share of budget woes but Governor Jay Nixon reached a deal earlier in the year with state colleges that promised education funding reductions to be no more than 5.2% if the colleges agreed to freeze tuition. Everyone seemed to be “ok” with this arrangement and moved forward with business as usual. However, Linn State Technical College took the gray area of the agreement and bended it to their favor by charging students an additional $3 dollars per credit hour for courses taken at the college.

University Officials at Linn State say they were technically abiding by the agreement because their increase was in the form of a fee and not tuition.

“It never was a tuition increase; it was a fee increase,” said John Nilges, the college’s vice president for administration and finance. “It’s a very complex misunderstanding in terms of the agreement versus the Department of Higher Education versus the institutions.”

After the dust has settled and all the calls from the Governor’s office have been appropriately responded to, Linn State has properly made the decision to rescind the $3 fee increase and abide by the original intent of the tuition freeze agreement.

Dr. Debbie Below is the Asst. Vice-President for Enrollment Management at Southeast Missouri State University and she states, “Students and families have expressed a feeling of relief as a result of this decision. Families do seem to be more conscious of the overall cost of education and they seem more likely to select a college based on the family’s ability to finance the education. I am hopeful that this means fewer students will find themselves borrowing excessively to finance the cost of college.”

The educational piece (lesson) that I want our readers at CheapScholar.org to take from this is that there is a distinct difference in the eyes of many colleges between fees and tuition. A college or university may promise a tuition freeze or a specific percentage increase in tuition but could adjust their “fees” arbitrarily to help with budgetary needs (This was the approach taken by Linn State). So, it is important that you factor in all the costs so that you are always working with a bottom line and know exactly how an increase in tuition (or fees) is going to impact what you pay from year to year.

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Missouri Access Grants On The Chopping Block

Missouri Access Grants On The Chopping Block

State budgets have been impacted hard this last year and it seems like most of the financial woes are trickling down in the form of funding cuts to various education programs. Now of course, I have come up with an alternative solution for state budget issues but for now it appears that the state of Missouri is following suit with a great number of other states and reducing the amount of money they will be providing to their students.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education has consistently provided a need based grant called ACCESS MISSOURI to Missouri students attending Missouri schools. Unfortunately though, this program used to dole out about $100 million dollars a year but after recent budget constraints they are lucky if they will be able to disburse $32 million for this coming academic year. Based upon this budget adjustment and the demand of students, it is estimated that the maximum award will be $500 for students attending public universities and $1,000 for those that are going to private colleges. The worst part about this reduction in funding is that it is going to be impacting the neediest students (since part of the qualifications are based upon your FAFSA results).

The following are the requirements that must be met in order to qualify for the Access Missouri Grant:

For New Students

  • Have a FAFSA on file by April 1, 2010.
  • Have any FAFSA corrections made by July 31, 2010 (if you are eligible, you may add school choices until September 30, 2010 by contacting the MDHE).
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and a Missouri resident.
  • Be an undergraduate student enrolled full time at a participating Missouri school. (Students with disabilities who are enrolled in at least six credit hours may be considered to be enrolled full time.)
  • Have an EFC of $12,000 or less.*
  • Not be pursuing a degree or certificate in theology or divinity.
  • Not have received your first bachelor’s degree, completed the required hours for a bachelor’s degree, or completed 150 semester credit hours.

For Returning Students

  • Continue to meet the eligibility requirements for initial students.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.5 and otherwise maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school.
  • Not have received an Access Missouri award for a maximum of five semesters at a 2-year school or 10 semesters at any combination of 2-year or 4-year schools, whichever occurs first.**

If you are a Missouri student that is being impacted by this reduction in funding, feel free to check out some of our approaches to assist you in bridging the gap in your educational expenses.

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Alaska Rolls Out State Scholarship Program

Alaska Rolls Out State Scholarship Program

College students across the great state of Alaska are taking comfort in a new state scholarship program that was recently put into law. It is categorically known as Senate Bill 221 but the warm and fuzzy moniker is going to be the Alaska Merit Scholarship.

These scholarship funds won’t go to waste on the not-so-brightest and academic underachievers. The emphasis that Governor Parnell put on this program is that the scholarships go to students that have a proven academic track record and will be sure to put the funds to good use. This aspect of the scholarship program differs from many other state scholarship programs across the nation that are more need-based and not directly tied to academic performance.

“Positioning Alaska’s economy for growth and our children and families for opportunity — I can’t imagine anything more fundamental to providing opportunities than doing everything possible to make sure our youth stay in school, get their diplomas, and move on to job training or college prepared to work,” Governor Parnell added.

Students with a 3.5 GPA (or above) will be eligible for $4,755 a year. Students with a GPA of a 3.0 will get $3,566 annually, and those with a GPA of 2.5 will benefit with $2,378. Below a 2.5 on your GPA (or less than a B-) and you will net nothing from this scholarship program.

In addition to GPA requirements, students will need to take four years of math, science, and language arts during their high school experience. Students must also obtain a minimum score on college entrance exams (I have not heard what the threshold for those exams as of this time).

Funding for this scholarship program is still being worked through. The Governor has assigned a task force with the responsibility of researching different funding methods to insure the scholarship program is in existence for years to come.

If you would like to find more information about the Alaska Merit Scholarship or Governor Parnell’s approach on education matters in Alaska, please feel free to check out this link for more details.

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Virginia Colleges Raise Tuition & State Reduces Grants

Virginia Colleges Raise Tuition & State Reduces Grants

Virginia has 15 public four-year colleges and universities canvasing the state and providing educational opportunities to tens of thousands of students.  Given the large cuts in taxpayer support (state subsidies), these students will now be getting the benefit of paying more for their tuition at all of these schools for the upcoming 2010-2011 academic year (a current list of tuition and fees can be found below).

Governor Bob McDonnell recognizes that annual increases in tuition will not be able to sustain the multi-million dollar budgets of these educational institutions for the long-term. His approach to a solution is to create an education commission consisting of college presidents and legislative law makers. They will be charged with the responsibility of creating and presenting a proposal by the end of November that will change the outlook of the budget stricken public colleges and universities in Virginia without adding extra expense to the tax payers and extra tuition (steep) increases to students. Certainly sounds like they have a tough task ahead of them. If they need a solution though, they can always follow suit with Zimbabwe’s proposal…

The information above only impacts those students attending Virginia’s public colleges and universities. However, it appears that students attending private institutions of higher education will not be without cuts as well. The Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant program awards state funded money to all Virginia residents that choose to go to private schools in the state of Virginia.  They recently announced that each qualifying student will still get an award but it will now be reduced by $400. It is estimated that this reduction will impact approximately 22,000 Virginia students.

If you are a student attending a college or university in the state of Virginia, feel free to check out my college affordability article to help give you some ideas on how to reduce the impact that these tuition increases and grant decreases have on your bottom line. In addition, don’t hesitate to check out my tips on finding scholarships.

Here is a list of the 15 public colleges and universities in Virginia and their expected tuition expenses for the coming 2010-2011 academic year:

  • Virginia Military Institute: $12,328 ($19,460 including mandatory room and board)
  • College of William and Mary: $12,188
  • University of Virginia: $10,628
  • Longwood University: $9,855
  • Virginia Tech: $9,589
  • Christopher Newport University: $9,250
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: $8,817
  • George Mason University: $8,686
  • University of Mary Washington: $7,862
  • James Madison University: $7,860
  • Old Dominion University: $7,708
  • Radford University: $7,694
  • University of Virginia College at Wise: $7,194
  • Virginia State University: $6,570
  • Norfolk State University: $6,226

Here are in-state rates at two-year public colleges:

  • J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College: $109.60 per credit hour
  • John Tyler Community College: $107.50 per credit hour
  • Richard Bland College: $3,284 (annual)

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Ivy Tech Free Tuition Scholarship Opportunity

Ivy Tech Free Tuition Scholarship Opportunity

IvyTechWe are entering into the time of year when every student is trying to scrounge up every scholarship opportunity that they can come across to help reduce the college expenses that they are expected to face in the coming academic year.

Ivy Tech Community College (located in Fort Wayne Indiana) received an accolade from CheapScholar.org when they rolled out their 1 year associates degree program. Now I would like to bring attention to their recent scholarship contest that could equate to free college tuition for one student for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Ivy Tech’s scholarship contest is pretty simple. All you need to do is the following:

  1. Create a video that depicts why Ivy Tech is your choice and why you deserve a scholarship
  2. Upload the video to YouTube
  3. Submit an entry form to Ivy Tech
  4. Promote your video to all your friends and family via your favorite social networks or email

The video that has the most views by August 1st, 2010 will be eligible to win a $3000 tuition scholarship (enough to cover a years tuition). Second place will get $2,000 and third place will get $1,000.

The contest officially began on April 15th but you still have plenty of time to enter and win this free tuition money. This a great opportunity for students needing extra scholarship money and it is a wonderful way for Ivy Tech to get some viral marketing depending upon the caliber of the videos submitted on YouTube.

Official Contest Rules can be found here (you know.. the small print…)

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One Two Financial Punch (in the gut) for Illinois Students

One Two Financial Punch (in the gut) for Illinois Students

ISACYesterday, I wrote an article about how the University of Illinois was increasing their tuition by 9.5% for the upcoming academic year.  While this is sometimes hard to stomach, most families and students are somewhat expecting an increase in fees over the years.  Unfortunately though, thousands of students anticipating to receive financial aid from the state of Illinois just recently found out that the money has run out and many students will go without funding this year.  Certainly not a good time for students in the great state of Illinois.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is estimating that it will have $400 million dollars to award to needy students this coming year, which is a pretty typical dollar amount based upon prior years. However, as you can imagine, the number of eligible needy students has increased and the group just does not have enough money set aside to meet the demand. They have already turned down approximately 27,000 students and they anticipate the number of rejections to increase to 200,000 once all is said and done..

ISAC administrators state that rejections are nothing new and that they have been increasing in number for the past couple of years. In 2008-2009 they rejected almost 60,000 students and in 2009-2010 they turned down 120,000 eligible student applications for funding. The feeling that I am getting is that they don’t necessarily want to turn students away, they just don’t have a choice once the money is no longer available.

Recommendation

It appears that students are awarded on a first come first serve basis and your “number” in line is going to be based upon when you complete your FAFSA for the upcoming academic year. ISAC states that funding ran out this year by April 19th. So, I would recommend students next year to make sure that they complete their FAFSA on-time and ahead of schedule to insure receipt of the limited financial aid available from the state of Illinois. Here is a link to all the grant applications provided by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Enjoy!

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University of Illinois Approves a 9.5 Percent Tuition Increase

University of Illinois Approves a 9.5 Percent Tuition Increase

uofiThe University of Illinois has long since been known as having one of the most complicated tuition structures in the country. Tuition rates for each of their programs varies greatly and even if you know the tuition rate, you also better be sure of which areas of study include surcharges. For example, if you are an art student, you need to budget an additional $1500 in college costs over and above your tuition expenses.

This last Thursday, the trustees for U of I voted in favor of raising tuition by 9.5 percent for the 2010-2011 academic year. At the same meeting, they approved a $170,000 salary increase ($620,000) for the role of University President.

As you can imagine, this decision did not come without opposition. Students and faculty voiced their concern over the tuition rate increase and stated that “it was ridiculous” and that “the school is just not affordable”.

Undergrad tuition rates for the upcoming academic year are slated to be $10,386 at the Urbana-Champaign campus, $9,134 at the Chicago campus and $8,108 at the Springfield campus. If you would like more detailed information about the fees at the University of Illinois, you can check out their fee schedule here.

If you are a student (or parent of a student) and you are looking for ways to help absorb this additional tuition expense, please don’t hesitate to take a look at my article for approaches to paying for college. Hopefully it can provide you with some possible solutions.

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