Demand for aid hits record high
August 26, 2008 4:12 PM
Applications for financial aid at SF State hit an unprecedented high for the fall semester, rising amid concerns for the economy and state budget.
This semester about 40,000 students have applied for some sort of financial assistance, Barbara Hubler, director of financial aid for SF State said. Typically the number of potential SF State students that apply for financial aid is between 34,000 and 35,000.
While this 15 percent increase in applicants is unexpected, it should not prevent students from receiving the financial help they require.
“Everyone who is eligible will receive some sort of assistance,” Hubler said. “We are not going to be forced to turn students away.”
When students are in need of some sort of financial aid, they have the option of applying for a grant or a loan.
Federal Pell Grants, federal student loans and California State University grants make it easier for students at SF State to pay for an education and other expenses outside of class.
“I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to school if I wasn’t getting these grants,” Denise Baltran, a senior at SF State and recipient of the Pell and CSU grants, said.
While grants involve funds given to students in need of monetary assistance, loans require students to pay back money that was awarded to them after they complete their college education.
Even though the number of potential SF State students applying for grants and loans has risen drastically, Hubler emphasized that students in need of assistance will not be left to fend for themselves.
“We are accommodating all applicants who are asking for financial aid,” Hubler said. “While the grants and loans might not be enough for a student to survive on — they will still receive the money.”
According to a 2006-07 study conducted by the California State University Office of the Chancellor, the average grant a student receives is $5,805 and the average loan a student receives is $6,744.
In addition to the rising cost of enrollment at SF State, $1,881 this semester — up 10 percent from last semesters’ $1,728 — students, according to the university’s Web site, are forced to pay another $17,941 per year for additional costs such as books, room and board, personal expenses and transportation.
Hubler acknowledged that grants and loans are not sufficient for students to live on, although she still believes the money students receive is crucial to their continued enrollment at SF State.
“These grants and loans don’t really cut it a lot of the time,” she said. “There is a growing gap between what students can and can’t afford.”
While the exact number of students attending SF State this semester is still being calculated, Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment planning and management, said the school is anticipating slightly more than 30,000 students — close to the number of students last year.
Since the number of students attending SF State does not appear to be drastically increasing like the number of students applying for financial aid, some wonder why there is such an increase in applicants for financial assistance. Some blame the faltering economy.
“In general, as the economy worsens, more people apply for assistance,” said Dean Kulju, director of student financial aid services and programs at California State University’s Office of the Chancellor. “As more families are being impacted by rising costs it affects their income and funds they have available to meet expenses, including education.”
While Hubler says she doesn’t have a concrete reason as to why so many students are applying for financial aid, she believes that the rising cost of tuition at SF State is partly responsible for the rise in financial aid applicants.
“I don’t really have a specific explanation, but prices for schooling have been going up,” Hubler said. “I’d assume that these tuition increases are somewhat responsible for the increase of students requesting financial aid.”
Vincent Dee, a senior at SF State and recipient of the Cal Grant and the Federal Student Loan, said he is happy to receive financial assistance, but will be forced to get a job this semester to cover extra and unforeseen expenses.
“Oh, I’m definitely going to have to get a job,” Dee said. “There’s no way I can get by on loans and grants alone.”
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