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UA sees sharp increase in students seeking financial aid

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Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014 12:00 am

In the past six years, the number of University of Alaska students applying for federal aid has doubled, and value of their grants nearly tripled, according to UA.

Almost 8,000 grants valued at $25.8 million were awarded in 2012, an increase from 4,035 grants valued at $8.9 million in 2007. Students who filled out the 2012 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called FAFSA, were eligible for as much as $5,645 in need-based Pell grants. 

According to a survey by the College Board, resident tuition in a four-year program at UA averages $5,885 per year for full-time students — second-lowest in the U.S., behind Wyoming. The FAFSA allows students to receive funds from grants, merit-based assistance and privately funded scholarships, reducing tuition and fees further.

Behind the increase in student grants are awareness programs like “February FAFSA Frenzy,” which includes drawings, contests, events and workshops. The outreach campaign for financial aid also aims to increase the number of early FAFSA applications — between January and March — which now account for 45 percent of all applications. Students who apply early receive award letters early, which encourages decision-making and connects them to a campus.

“It’s important for students to understand how they’ll fund their education,” says Arthur Hussey, student services manager at UA System Office.

“These efforts are clearly working,” according to Saichi Oba, associate vice president for students at the UA System. 

Since 2007, the overall number of FAFSAs submitted increased 69 percent, Oba said. In 2013, almost 20 million FAFSA applications were submitted in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Applications for UA Foundation scholarships — which require the FAFSA — are due Feb. 15. The FAFSA can be completed at www.fafsa.gov, the deadline is June 30.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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