Loans increase with tuition, enrollment

Shawntaye Hopkins

Some students not only want education to pay, but they want the state to pay for their education.

More students in Kentucky are seeking financial aid as universities continue to increase tuition and enrollment grows.

A record number of Kentucky students applied for state grants, said Michael Morgan, student aid branch manager for Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.

About 30,000 more students applied for state grants this academic year than last year, he said.

Use of federal loan programs has also increased, said Blake Tanner, chief operations officer for KHEAA.

“The loan volume for the last couple of years has averaged an increase of about 20 percent per year,” he said.

Loan volume involves both the amount and number of loans given.

The total number of students receiving financial aid this academic year increased by about 100 from last academic year, said Marilyn Clark, Western’s director of student financial assistance.

An increase in parent loans shows that more middle class families are borrowing money for students, Clark said. About 300 parents received loans in 2002-03, and 462 got loans this year.

About 900 more students received student loans this year.

Western students will likely receive a 10 percent tuition increase for next fall, President Gary Ransdell said.

Western has experienced three budget cuts in the past four years and enrollment growth has not been funded, he said.

“My challenge – the pressure I feel – is to ensure that the quality of the Western experience increases along with increased cost,” Ransdell said.

The Board of Regents promised in October not to increase tuition for the fall of 2004 by more than 10 percent after after an 11 percent increase was passed for this semester.

The University of Kentucky reported last week that it might increase tuition by 15 percent next fall, according to a story in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Enrollment growth and tuition increases both contribute to jumps in the amount of financial aid being granted to Kentucky.

Bill Davis, interim chair of the economics department, said more people attend college when they can’t find jobs in the community.

“The rewards of going to college and finishing are greater than they were in the past,” he said.

Tanner said more people are attending college because of a bad economy. And lack of state funding is causing tuition to increase.

“It would be safe to say it’s a combination, and certainly at the top of the list is the increasing cost of attendance,” Tanner said.

Morgan agreed.

“The more college costs, the more students recognize that they need help meeting those costs,” he said.

Andrea Nieman, a junior from Batesville, Ind., said she understands why tuition keeps increasing.

“The tuition increase is equally matched by the growth increase of the college,” she said.

But students such as Nashville junior Ashley Heath don’t believe the university can justify the rates.

Heath said she had to get a job during school for the first time this year.

Louisville freshman Alane Ziemer said she might also have to find more money.

“If it keeps increasing the way it is I’ll probably have to get more financial aid or find a way to get another scholarship,” she said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]