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Tag Archive | "State Funding Issues"

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 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

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 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

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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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.


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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Solution For Budget Stricken State College Systems

statebudgetI came across an informative article the other day that detailed how the country of Zimbabwe is overcoming their funding issues for higher education. They have put into law a decree that states that any student who received state funded educational grants is required to pay Zimbabwe a third of their wages if upon graduation they decide to work in a foreign country. From what I can tell, you have to pay one-third of your salary for each year that you were in attendance at the University and make the decision to work outside of the country.  It reminds me of the time period when we used to have indentured servants…

The impetus of this legislation is to help Zimbabwe reduce a consistent “brain drain” that they have been experiencing but more importantly it is hopeful that they will be able to originate some additional funding to help support it’s current student population. Based upon their recent financial crisis the local universities have sent out memorandums to all students stating that financial aid is no longer available to students experiencing financial distress.

I am not really sure how Zimbabwe is going to enforce this mandate amongst it’s student population but the approach certainly gets an “A” for creativity.  Can you imagine if our country (or states) started implementing a similar policy for students that receive federal or state aid to help subsidize their educational expenses? I don’t think it would work at the federal level but I could see the state college systems seriously considering this approach.

Let’s do a scenario.. What if you were a student at Georgia State University for four years. If you are a resident of Georgia your total tuition expense (sticker price) would be $28,280 ($3,535 a semester x 8 semesters). However, if you were an out-of-state student your tuition expense would be $101,120 ($12,640 a semester x 8 semesters). You have to keep in mind that these figures don’t include discounting (financial aid) or yearly percentage increases in fees… I am just trying to keep the math simple. 😉

The difference between the gross in-state rate and the out-of-state rate is $72,840. That means that if you are a Georgian resident you automatically receive a substantial discount. My guess is that the great state of Georgia is hoping that you will put this deeply discounted education to good use in their state but what happens if you decide to move to Ohio after graduation. That large discount you received is now money lost for the state of Georgia because you are taking your future earning potential (and tax dollars) to Ohio. So.. if they adopted Zimbabwe’s approach, they would make you pay a third of your wages back to them for the next four years as a form of restitution for the tuition discount you received. If you made $55,000 a year for the first four years in Ohio, the state of Georgia would break even with their “investment” in you because you would be paying back approximately $18,315 a year to them (based upon the Zimbabwe approach).

Now I can’t imagine that our state college systems would ever introduce something this radical. But as budget cuts are deeper and deeper and administrators and legislators are charged with the responsibility of reducing costs or increasing revenue within the state, you could see more “out of the box” proposals like Zimbabwe’s starting to surface.

So what do you think? Do you believe that your state college system or elected officials would really entertain something like this? I assume the answer is a resounding “NO” but goofier things have happened.

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