Tuition hike raises financial-aid questions

With the announcement of a 5.95 percent increase in tuition, many students are now scrambling to figure out how they are going to make up the difference.

Hal Deuser, director of Financial Aid, said that an increase in concern for the amount of financial aid available happens annually.

“Every year when they send out the rate increase, families always become more concerned,” Deuser said.

He said the Financial Aid office has received a number of calls from students and parents alike, wondering if their financial aid packages will also increase.

Deuser stressed that families put too much effort in looking for private scholarships instead of looking to the government or the University. “Based on the amount they give us, we try to work with families one on one. We’re constantly telling them that if you don’t think you can afford Saint Louis University, give us a chance to show you that you can,” Deuser said.

One of the most important things students and parents must do, Deuser said, is to make sure that the FAFSA, the Federal Government’s Application for Financial Aid, is filled out. To be eligible for financial aid, the FAFSA or the renewal form should be filed by mail or electronically by March 1, 2002.

Another method of finding financial aid is by checking out Web sites for private scholarships. Two of the most popular sites are www.fastweb.com and www.salliemae.com, Deuser said.

Also, as if an increase in tuition isn’t enough, the state of the economy has left many families and students searching for extra money to pay for a college education.

“We started seeing an [increase in concern due to the economy] around this time last year,” Deuser said. “However, we have systems in place to address unique situation such as losing a job due to the economy. Let us know your needs, and we will work to address these problems.”

Despite these reassurances, some students still have worries about their financial future.

Sophomore Sid Fey isn’t concerned about his personal situation, but knows of students who have been put in a tight financial position. “Fortunately for me I have a subsidized loan that increases each year, so my parents don’t have to pay more,” Fey said. “However, I do have several friends who are worried about being able to come back next year. SLU needs to realize that.”

Deuser, however, said that the University’s financial aid resources are increasing at a greater rate than that of tuition.

Deuser said that thanks to the University and University President Laurence Biondi, S.J.’s leadership “we’ve helped a vast number of families afford their student’s education.” “Fr. Biondi has made a major improvement in student aid. Also, because of the educational value we offer here, students are getting a great education that is equal to that of Harvard or Georgetown.”

However, when it comes down to it, value can sometimes take a back seat to money.

“I appreciate the good education that I am getting here at SLU, but I am concerned about how I will afford the rest of my college tuition,” said sophomore Lauren Gawrys. “I still have two years left here, and if it keeps going up the way it has, I guess I’ll have to look for another form of financial aid, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life paying off college loans.”

According to Deuser, the financial aid office is ready to assist students who feel this way.

“Based on the amount of additional money given to us by the University, state and federal government, there is a great amount of financial aid available,” Deuser said.