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Changes planned for financial aid

Scholarships and FAFSA undergo restructuring for the next two years in an attempt to benefit students. | Infographic by Emily Hayashida/THE CHIMES

 

Both Biola University Financial Aid and the U.S. Department of Education are preparing changes within the next two school years. Biola is restructuring the requirements for scholarships and increasing undergraduate academic scholarship amounts. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid will allow income information from the previous year and will open in October instead of January.

FIVE TO FOUR

Biola scholarships will be limited from five different options down to four in the 2016-2017 school year with the elimination of the Trustee’s scholarship. While this title will no longer be present, the same qualifications for the other four will remain the same.

“We took what used to be five scholarships and we changed them to four, but the qualifications to receive those four scholarships are basically the same. It’s just we’ve kind of combined two scholarships into one, but students will still be able to qualify in the same ways that they have in the past,” said Greg Vaughan, vice president of enrollment management.

RESTRUCTURING THE SCHOLARSHIPS

In addition to the restructuring, undergraduate scholarships in the 2015-2016 year range from $5,000 to $12,000, but will be increased to $10,000 to $14,000 in the 2016 to 2017 school year for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The change will not affect current students.

Vaughan said that one of the reasons Biola increased the scholarships for next year is to compete with the other colleges and universities that prospective Biola students are also interested in.

“Every year or two most schools raise their academic scholarships and then once you come in you maintain the scholarship for your four years and that’s kinda the way it has to happen for the budget to work out. So what you’re experiencing, or will be experiencing next year, is something other students have experienced for all time,” Vaughan said.

FRUSTRATION EXPRESSED

While it is likely some students expressed frustration in regards to the effects of this increase, others are indifferent and remain content with their current amounts.

“I’m grateful for what I got,” said Sean Smith, sophomore biochemistry major. “If they happen to award me more, I’ll take it, but if not I’ll just keep going the way I’m going.”

FAFSA is also in the process of changing their deadlines and what information is required in order to make the federal aid application process easier for students. Applications for the 2017-2018 school year will open on Oct. 1 2016, and students can use their income information from the 2015 FAFSA, which is due for income tax returns in April 2016.

An article on Forbes.com explains that both current and prospective students often would fill out the application with an income estimation, but would then have to change this information when tax returns are filed. This process causes delays with getting a finalized financial aid package from their schools which is a larger problem for prospective students who have to decide on their school by May 1.

“A lot of students are trying to get that financial aid quickly and it’s kind of competitive now already, so I feel like it will make it more competitive,” said Joseph Morales, freshman anthropology major.

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