Stevenson financial aid forum reveals financial aid on the rise
Money speaks for graduating Stevenson High School juniors and seniors
Updated: March 18, 2013 1:16AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — With the state of America’s economy still a hot topic for 2013, seniors at Stevenson High School have one major concern about college: paying for it.
On January 9, Stevenson High School hosted its annual Financial Aid Night, featuring Jerry Cebrzynski, director of financial aid for Lake Forest College.
Robert Foltin, a college consultant at Stevenson, said the class of 2014, or this year’s junior class, are starting to delve into the entire financial aid process – and making some hard decisions early on.
“The whole thing can be intimidating,” Foltin said of paying for college. “For the class of 2013, we offer (options of) colleges we see to be good values, even if the families aren’t asking for them.”
Foltin said that has proven successful.
“There was more interest this year than any other year, which I didn’t find surprising,” Foltin said. “This past year, there’s been a greater degree of interests in greater value colleges.”
Cebrzynski said, contrary to many Americans’ perceptions, financial aid awards from the government are on the rise.
“There is more good news than bad news,” Cebrzynski said. “Last year, 82 percent of all first-time, full-time undergraduates received aid. More than $177 billion was awarded.”
48 percent of those recipients, Cebrzynski said, were in the form of Pell Grants, or free money.
“The Pell grants are actually going up,” Cebrzynski said. “Allbeit $85, but it’s going up.”
But the choice between staying at home and saving money, or living the college life, tends to be a big deciding factor for students, Foltin said.
Another tough decision, Foltin said, may include passing on a dream college due to the costs. A Stevenson senior, who wished to go by the name Tyler, said that’s the exact situation he is in now.
“The school that I am looking at the most is extremely expensive,” Tyler said. “But, another school I was looking at has not only offered me a scholarship, but reduced tuition to in-state tuition, even though I live out of state.”
Even though he has yet to visit the more affordable college, Tyler said he may ultimately decidedto go there simply because of the costs.
“They money they are offering me is making a big impact on my college decision,” Tyler said.
But, Foltin offered, “if you’ve fallen in love with one (college), and the price is a disappointment, you can still find engineering or pre-med (elsewhere) for a better value,” using the two careers as an example. “It’s about if you and your family thinks it is worth it.”
But, there is some glimmer of good news for parents. The American Opportunity Tax Credit still remains in effect, now that lawmakers have avoided the so-called fiscal cliff.
Families can still receive up to $2,500 in tax credits each year for up to four years, if their child is in college. If Congress did not agree to that, the credit would have dropped to a maximum of $1,900 a year for only two years of college.