Students can expect changes to financial aid beginning as early as the 2018-2019 academic year. The upcoming changes are both at the institutional level and the federal level.
Robert Gamez, director of student financial assistance, said Congress is in the process of revoking federal need-based grant programs, including the Perkins Loan Program, which will end after the 2017-2018 academic year.
According to Federal Student Aid, the Perkins program supports undergraduate and graduate students with “exceptional” financial needs. Eligible undergraduate students can borrow as much as $27,500 at 5 percent interest, while graduate students can borrow up to $60,000.
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K-State provides 2.3 to 2.5 million dollars in Perkins loans annually, Gamez said. The university made an effort to communicate to congressional delegation that it wants the loan program to continue.
“K-State doesn’t have anything to replace the Perkins loan,” Gamez said. “Most institutions that have the Perkins loan are in the same boat. Most don’t have the money to replace it. It will definitely be tough for higher need students.”
Larry Moeder, executive director of student financial assistance and associate vice president for student life, said the loss of the Perkins loan program will result in a loss of $2.6 million per year.
Other problems plaguing federal financial aid are seen in the Pell grant. John Morris, senior vice president of development for the KSU Foundation, said the federal government has not increased the allocations of funds for the Pell grant despite increased tuition costs.
Gamez said 23.47 percent of undergraduate students at K-State are eligible for the Pell grant, and in the 2016-2017 academic year the university distributed $145.79 million in federal financial assistance through the Pell grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant, federal work-study, student loans and the Perkins Loan Program.
In the same year, the university provided students $102.87 million in non-federal financial assistance, Gamez said, through state programs, scholarships, the KSU Foundation, private loans, veterans benefits and the university’s work-study program.
Moeder said K-State gives out approximately $33 million in academic scholarships each year. Most of these are merit-based. When scholarships run out, many students turn to loans to pay for their college education. The average student leaves college with around $26,000 in debt.
To combat this, the Office of Student Financial Assistance and the KSU Foundation have implemented a new scholarship program to combat the loss of federal assistance and increase cost of attendance. These scholarships will be given to students who meet “enrollment needs of the time,” a phrase that allows for more flexibility in allocating donations given to the KSU Foundation to need-based scholarships.
“I can’t undo the current money, but here’s what we can do going forward,” Morris said. “We don’t like to say this is only available for Pell eligible kids, because what if my household income is $41,000 so I don’t meet the Pell standards and I have 3 students in college right now? Do I not have need?”
Morris said the donors want their dollars to be awarded and to be impactful. He said K-State is a top five institution in donor willingness to give.
Gamez said the current scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year are in place and will not be changed during the academic year.