Centenary College in New Jersey and others in the tri-state region have come up with unusual financial aid programs for students who are unemployed. For example, at Centenary, if a student takes one accelerated class, the second one that the student decides to take would be free.
While Centenary’s plan is targeted at unemployed students, the struggle to pay for college hits many ranges of students. Siobhan Hurd, senior English major, was also affected by the crisis, and after three years of living on campus had to move off.
“I wanted to commute because I’m actually paying for school myself and I thought that it would cut down costs if I don’t live on campus,” Hurd said. Hurd who graduates in the spring is terrified due to the fact that she is not only going to school but she is also providing for herself.
“I am really excited because that means I can actually spend more time working. Once I graduate I will hopefully be getting a better job, but I am really scared of paying off my student loans. I don’t have enough money to do it all,” Hurd said.
Not only are seniors really affected by the amount of tuition; freshman communication major, Danielle Alio, is struggling to live the college life.
“With our scholarship money it’s cheaper, but with the economy my dad doesn’t make enough money anymore and I think it’s going to be a problem. We can’t go on vacations, we can’t even buy things that we need around the house,” Alio said.
Alio worries about her mother driving an old car but she said that her parents can’t afford another car and it is difficult for them to spend money on themselves.
“My parents, the way they work, they need a vacation. Even if it’s just the two of them but they can’t even afford for the two of them to get away. It’s kind of sad and that’s another reason why I can’t live at college because it would be so much money. We try everything we can to make things affordable,” Alio said.
Not just students are feeling the pinch. John Haggerty, financial aid counselor at Cabrini College, who has graduated in the past five years and since then has gone through graduate school, has deferred his loan payments.
“While I am not paying now, I might be paying more later. I’m even worried about myself in that sense. So it’s hard for me to say I don’t know if it is going to be more or less difficult, to be honest,” Haggerty said.
A tuition discount may help get more Cabrini students to come here, but according to Linda Milne, junior psychology major, tuition discounts will not help Cabrini expand.
“I don’t know if it would make more people come here, because Cabrini already gives out a lot of money, but I think it would make people go to college more in general,” Milne said.
There are also other ways besides the tuition discount that can help students find aid to pay those college bills. Haggerty has been an aid to students who are looking for scholarships they are eligible for.
“I come and have them sit here and they tell me a little about themselves. I’ve created a profile online where I can go in and put that data in and find a list of scholarships for them,” Haggerty said. “For current students there are grants that Cabrini does offer based on financial need. I believe when they are admitted here they are also given an achievement grant or scholarship as well, which in a sense is sort of a tuition discount.”
Hurd tries to increase her earnings rather than seek scholarships. Hurd is constantly working to put money in her pocket. She feels that scholarships are a bit unfair. She said that she never pursued scholarships because she never was able to meet the standards.
“They’re all catering to people who did all these clubs and community service and all this stuff. I never had the chance to do because I was either working or just providing for myself,” Hurd said.
The scholarship research that Haggerty does is a new service and the responses have doubled since last semester. Scholarship ads are hung around campus and are on the television screens around campus.
“I honestly think that Cabrini would get a rise in students because if they realize there are opportunities to be taken here then they would definitely come,” Hurd said.
Hurd said that she thought rewarding good grades with tuition discounts or scholarships would attract more students to college.
“I would love a discount because I think the price for college is ridiculous. Any college, even state schools, is still a lot of money,” Alio said.
“If you are making the college choice based on if first off, I can afford it and second off do I like it, instead of, do I like it and then can I afford it. That’s a huge difference where you end up going and you want to end up in the right place. I think enrollment would increase and people coming back would increase.”
Nevertheless, Alio stepped back and realized how grateful she really is to have the opportunity to be getting her education.
In Alio’s SEM 100 class, the professor told the students that 1 percent of the population in the world goes to college and the percentage decreases every year because of the economy.
“My professor said how lucky we are to be sitting in these seats to learn. The economy is so bad, kids are just dropping out left and right because of the money,” Alio said.