Enrollment spike overwhelms financial aid department

Hundreds of students applying for financial aid this fall have not yet received their funding.

The financial aid department is dealing with a 59 percent increase in Financial Aid applications this year with a 30.5 percent increase in financial aid awards. In the entire academic year of 2008, according to the Vice President of Student Development Board Report, 2,809 students applied for Financial Aid and 1,483 were awarded. In contrast, this year 4,463 have already applied – and that number is still increasing – with 1,935 awarded so far.

Submissions are not slowing; over a hundred applications were submitted last week and the week before.

As of Oct. 14, 969 applicants are waiting to hear from financial aid.

Laurie Spangenberg, the director of financial aid, said, “900 people with complete files haven’t heard from us, and they filed in June and July.” She went on to say, “We’re hoping to finish with 600 of the 900 this week and that’s why we’re closed.”

If students have not received financial aid due to the backlog, their classes will be held and they can apply for emergency loans for books.

“There are no due dates for filing, but file as early as possible. If you even think you’re going to college – file,” advises Spangenberg.

Though there are no due dates for applying for financial aid, resources supplied by the department are finite and applications are processed on as a first-come-first-serve basis. The federal Pell Grant, for instance, funds the first students who complete their forms and submit them.

Last year’s summer term, 359 students were awarded a Pell Grant, but this summer term, that number increased to 1,078. In fact, well over $2.3 million dollars in aid was given out this summer.

The Board Report states, “For perspective, in 2005-2006 we gave out approx $4.5M in state & federal financial aid. Last year, we gave out over $17M. This last summer we gave out $2.5M. It is projected that we will give out somewhere around $24M in financial aid this year.”

The financial aid department handles grants, loans, scholarships and federal work study.

Spangenberg said, “Last year, over $800,000 in scholarships was awarded to students. We’re looking at the same number or higher this year.”

The staff of the department consists of six full time members. The department is looking to add another full time position but interviewing for the job is now closed. The position will be handling the front counter, working with students and answering questions.

Fall and summer terms have also seen a dramatic increase with enrollment. The summer term saw a 77 percent increase while statistics for fall term show approximately a 40 percent increase.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.