College financial aid to increase
Katie Schaefer of Leola might find it easier to pay for college in the coming years.
Schaefer is a sophomore elementary and special education major at Northern State University. She has scholarships, grants and loans to pay for her education.
President Bush recently signed a law increasing the maximum yearly Pell Grant to $4,310, up $260. Yearly loan limits on federal Stafford Loans will increase to $3,500 for freshmen and $4,500 for sophomores. Loan limits for juniors and seniors – $5,500 per year – are not changing.
Stafford Loans must be repaid; grants do not have to be repaid.
Both increases are effective July 1.
Many other NSU students could also benefit from the recent changes. The NSU Financial Aid Office reported that 93 percent of students received some type of financial aid.
“It’s been right around 90 percent for the last five or six years,” said Sharon Kienow, NSU director of financial aid.
Of that 93 percent, 80 percent received a federal student loan and 40 percent received a Pell Grant.
Kienow said only the 1,961 degree-seeking students at NSU can receive federal financial aid.
Schaefer said her scholarships and grants pay for most of her tuition.
According to the NSU Financial Aid Office, the estimated cost of tuition, fees, books, room and board for one academic year for a South Dakota resident living on campus is $10,334.
“The price isn’t bad compared to most (other colleges),” Schaefer said.
The Financial Aid Office reported that NSU students received a total of $13.1 million in financial aid in the 2005-06 school year.
Of the financial aid disbursed at NSU, student loans made up 65 percent. Grants and scholarships made up 27 percent, and student employment made up 8 percent.
How to get it: To receive student aid, students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA. Students have to fill out the FAFSA for every year they will be in college if they want to receive federal student aid.
The amount and type of student aid Schaefer received by filling out the FAFSA is based on several factors, including the amount of money her parents make – even though they don’t contribute money toward her tuition – and the number of children in her family.
Schaefer is one of six children, and one of her brothers will attend college in the fall, which she hopes will increase the amount of grant money she can receive.
Working for it: Although she lived on campus last semester, she now lives at home, which somewhat reduces her total cost of college.
She expects to graduate in five years because of her double major. She said she might also pursue a history minor.
She said NSU awarded the majority of her scholarships. Some of her scholarships are renewable every year, but some she has to apply for each year.
She also works 40 hours a week, split between two part-time jobs: a work-study job at NSU’s financial aid office and a job at JC Penney in the Lakewood Mall. Her jobs help her pay for living expenses and give her spending money.
Between going to class and working, it can be hard to find time to study, she said.
“Both jobs are pretty lenient,” she said. “If I absolutely need time off, they’ll work with me.”
Scholarships take effort: Like Schaefer, many students combine different forms of financial aid to pay for school, but a few lucky ones don’t have to worry about it.
Lucas Keahey is one of the lucky ones. He received Presentation College’s Presidential Scholarship, which pays for his full tuition.
According to Presentation College’s Financial Aid Office, the average annual cost for a full-time student attending the Aberdeen campus is $12,150, which can depend on clinical fees or the type of courses a student takes. That number does not include room and board.
The Financial Aid Office reported that 91 percent of Presentation College students received some type of financial aid; 776 students attend Presentation College this semester. Of that 91 percent, 54 percent received grants; 52 percent received scholarships and 94 percent received loans.
In the 2005-06 school year, Presentation College students received a total of $1.1 million in federal grants and $1.39 million in institutional funding (like scholarships), which comes from Presentation College.
Keahey is a sophomore from Aberdeen, majoring in radiologic technology. When he received the scholarship, he had to have a certain grade point average in high school and a certain score on his ACT, a common national college admission examination.
To keep the scholarship, he has to live on campus for two years and maintain a 3.75 grade point average – the latter of which is not an easy feat.
“Around midterms and then a week before finals, I probably get a bit stressed,” he said.
He also has a work-study job at Presentation College’s computer lab, and he is an on-call tissue recovery technician for the South Dakota Lions Eye Bank.
But he doesn’t work full time during the school year, freeing up more time to study and maintain his grade point average.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for people working 40 hours a week and going to school at the same time,” he said. “They have to study, too.”