Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football readies for season-opener against Hawaii -

August 22, 2017

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

New developments in student financial aid policies

A loan, the bane of existence for many students, has always been an option to assist in the cost of higher education. Then there is also financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships and work study, which are offered to soften the blow of loans. For many years, the college financial aid system was complicated and seemingly tortuous for most students and their families.  

Recently, long overdue developments in the system have been implemented.

Sandy Baum, a professor of economics at Skidmore College in New York, detailed the following developments in financial aid. 

Baum mentioned income-based repayment for federal student loans. In simpler terms, the new system will limit monthly payments on federal student loans to a percentage based on the borrower’s income.  

However, Baum stated that, “this system is not perfect, as while the government will pay the interest for some borrowers whose payments don’t cover it, others will see their debts grow as interest accrues.”

Any time the federal government increases gift aid programs, students benefit. The Pell Grant is awarded on a financial need formula and the maximum is set yearly by the U.S. Congress. The amount of the Pell Grant increased to $5350 from $4731 in 2008-2009 for students with zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 

In addition, the EFC range was extended from $4110 to $4617. According to Ed Blaguszewski of the University of Massachusetts Office of  News and Media Relations, more students will be eligible. 

Now there is no escape from loans. But these recent developments in the repayment and source of loans are a welcome change. 

Other notable changes include the sources of college loans, such as switching to the Direct Lending program from the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL).  

“UMass Amherst participates in the Direct Lending program, so the proposed change to eliminate lenders for the Federal Family Education Loan Program will have no negative impacts on our students,” Blaguszewski said. “There will not be the need for all students to complete any additional paperwork, which would occur on a campus that has to switch from FFELP to Direct Lending.” 

Lastly, the Department of Education continues to work on ways to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In the past, the FAFSA has been a complicated application process. Fortunately, the new application will significantly minimize the number of questions, especially specific questions that do not pertain to a student’s circumstances.

Blaguszewski acknowledged that in 2008-2009, more than 75 percent of UMass’s full-time undergraduates completed the FAFSA. This compares with about 45 percent of all public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. 

Even with the improvements in financial aid system, some UMass students were still skeptical about how significant the changes would be. 

“These changes are good, but I feel many students are still going to need all the financial aid they can get,” said Eduardo Manta, a sophomore student majoring in mechanical engineering. “We go to college to reap riches. What’s the point of college if we have to pay back endless loans afterwards?”

But with the rising tuition and living cost, other students were more appreciative of loans. 

“I can’t complain about financial aid,” said Danny Weng, a sophomore transfer student. “Even though I dislike loans, they have enabled me to fulfill my dream for a college education.”

Davin Surin can be reached at dsurin@student.umass.edu

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