Enrollment down as financial aid increases

A new report that is being submitted to the Board of Trustees shows that both state and institutional financial aid has slightly increased in the past two years. Funding at the state level has increased by 2 percent and at the institution by 3 percent.

Jerry Donna, director of financial aid, said this is expected to continue for the next couple of years before leveling out.

“The enrollment for last year actually dropped and our financial aid increased,” Donna said. “That means less people are getting more aid, so it worked out well for the students.”

With the enrollment being down, Eastern will be introducing new initiatives to get students, Donna added. One of these initiatives includes offering in-state tuition to students from bordering states.

“This will expand the pool of people who may be persuaded to come here, because they can get that in-state rate,” Donna said.

Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs, said keeping costs down is a big part of getting more students.

“We’re looking at trying to get the information out to students about the large number of scholarships we have available,” Nadler said.

Eastern is in the middle of its “EI&U” capital campaign to raise $50 million or more. Donna said part of that campaign is to make additional scholarships so more students are able to attend the university.

Meanwhile, grants, scholarships, waivers and loans have increased by 13 percent this year and are expected to stay the same next year. What is expected to increase is the amount of loans requested. Currently 60 percent of aid is in the form of loans.

“We really make an effort to teach students about borrowing, we don’t want to students to get out and have so much loan debt that they can’t handle it,” Donna said. “Eastern students actually have a considerably lower debt than schools around us, because respectively we have a lower cost.”

The majority of aid that students receive comes from institutional funding; this includes gift aids and donations. State aid includes MAP grants and loans.

“The trend shows that a few years ago the majority of school funding came from the state, now that has inverted and more and more is reliant upon the students, so it important to be able to provide that funding for the students,” Nadler said.

Overall all the financial aid programs are expected to stay the same for the next year, and students can expect the same amount of aid and loans.

Kaylia Eskew can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]