Ask Dr. Carter

A significant number of students were not able to return to school during the 2012-2013 year because of changes in financial aid on the federal level. What plans and/or steps are in place to ensure that student aid will not continue to be adversely affect

The first step is to accept that higher education no longer has real insight or authority in regards to federal and state financial aid made available to students through grants and loans. In addition, the changes in the allocation of funds for higher education are forever evolving, and the funds available to parents and students to assist in financing a higher education are continually decreasing. One such example, is the elimination of the year-round Pell Grant implemented by the federal government which had an adverse impact on students as they no longer had funds available for year-round learning such as summer school. Another example of radical change in federal funding is changes to the Parent PLUS Loan program and its eligibility rules – particularly the decision to use higher credit standards – by the U.S. Department of Education. That decision had a devastating impact on students and parents. As a result of the changes, more than 400,000 students nationwide initially were denied Parent PLUS Loans, including 125,000 students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The second step is that the University has been working diligently and will continue to work with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), with a coalition of HBCUs, and with government officials as we solicit the Department of Education for relief in Title IV funding in areas such as Parent PLUS Loan criteria, constant reductions in federal and state funding available to our students, and increased interest rates in student loans. Ms. Cathy Hurd, Dean of Enrollment Services, represented JCSU in a Congressional Hearing held at Spelman College on June 4, 2013, and presented to the Department of Education a testimony of how its changes to Parent PLUS Loan criteria negatively impacted our enrollment for the 2012-2013 academic year.

As a third step, the JCSU Board of Trustees has launched the President’s Gap Scholarship Fund campaign to raise expendable funds and endowed scholarships to address gaps in financial aid for deserving students. This Trustee-led campaign is committed to raising $10 million. To date, the campaign has early returns of $1 million.

The fourth step is the collaboration between the Office of Institutional Advancement and the Office of Government Sponsored Programs and Research (GSPAR) to actively solicit donors and government agencies for scholarship funds. GSPAR recently secured $616,000 from the National Science Foundation for scholarships to support students studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The award will provide 96 scholarships to close the financial gap for students for whom college affordability presents a challenge.

This answer was posted on: 8/1/2013 9:14 pm