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Financial Aid Offices Feel The Strain of Rising Tuition Costs, Too

Dec 06, 2011

Students may think they're the only ones being impacted by increasing tuition costs. But while students are trying to find new ways to fund their education, financial aid offices are trying to make sure they can provide as much assistance as possible.

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By Jessica Lyons

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Tuition on the Rise

There seem to be countless stories about how tuition is on the rise at colleges all over the country. The New York Times reported an 18% increase in University of California tuition while the University of Missouri's student newspaper, The Maneater, said that it costs students 5.8% more to attend the school this year than it did last year. Particularly for students from low-income families, even the smallest of tuition increases can hurt their ability to attend school. But does higher tuition really mean that all hope is lost for these students?

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Financial Aid Offices to the Rescue?

The good news for students is that campus financial aid offices don't appear to be blind to increased need to help offset these higher costs. In June of 2010, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) reported the findings of a survey of its members, which concluded that for the 2010-2011 academic year student aid increased by about 6.8% while tuition increases averaged 4.5%.

While increasing the funding available to students, financial aid offices also seem to remain dedicated to helping their students. The Maneater reported that the University of Missouri has seen an increase in financial aid applications over the last two years. 'We will use whatever resources we have the best we can to help students attend MU,' the director of the school's Office of Student Financial Aid, Jim Brooks, told the publication. 'We'll do what we always do, which is to put together the best financial aid package for students.'

How to Increase Resources

Although it's great news that schools are increasing financial assistance for their students, the big question is: how are they finding the money to do so? Many schools are finding themselves trying to get more private donations to use toward scholarships and grants, which isn't the easiest task in a bad economy.

The University of Illinois is an example of one school upping its fundraising efforts. In June of 2011 it launched its 'Access Illinois: The Presidential Scholarship Initiative,' a campaign that seeks to raise $100 million over the next three years to help provide financial assistance to students. The school's president, Michael Hogan, has already made a $100,000 donation to the campaign and, in a university press release, noted that 'no matter how big or small, every gift is an investment that will pay rich dividends for our students and our commitment to access for all.'

Faced with receiving less state funding, some schools are now imposing new student fees to help come up with more money.

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