President Obama announces system to adjust financial aid

Danniel Rodriguez/ Contributing Writer

President Barack Obama is often quoted as wanting to bring change to the American people; FIU students might be getting some extra change in their pockets and more out their degree real soon.

“The President’s proposal came out as a bit of a surprise” said Vice President Steve Sauls from the Office of Governmental Relations.

On Aug. 22,  President Obama announced a new college affordability and rating system. The system would rate colleges on factors including graduation rates and graduate earnings,  favoring students who apply to high-performing colleges by giving them better rates on their student loans and more in their Pell Grants.

“At this point, with few details on the plan and how it would apply, it is premature to draw any conclusions on it’s impact,” wrote Francisco Valines, director of Financial Aid, in an email to Student Media

According to statistics posted by the Office of Governmental Relations on their website, FIU ranks fourth in the United States among public universities in terms of number of Pell Grant recipients.

In 2011, President Mark B. Rosenberg spoke in Washington, DC to protect Pell Grants, saying they are a pillar of the American dream.

President Obama’s plan is looking to create a program which would give “bonuses” to universities and colleges who enroll large amounts of students eligible for grants.

“I like the plan. I have plenty of friends who receive grants and are still struggling and any little bit can go a long way, I just hope that they include other types of financial aid as well,” said Gabriela Aramayo, a junior civil engineering major, who receives the Leverage Grant.

The same statistics from the Office of Government state that from 2012-2013, 36 percent of students used Pell Grants to pay for their studies. Sixty-nine percent qualified for maximum benefits.

With lines at the Financial Aid Office still leading outside of Primera Casa, the number of students receiving financial assistance remains high.

“The new system seems helpful, but doesn’t fix the entire problem with higher education, which is that it is entirely too expensive,” said Miguel Asencio, who is a graduate student in education, first-generation student and grant recipient.

He chose to attend the University in 1994 because it was cost effective.

“Even now it’s hard to expect most students to balance a job and classes to pay for loans. I would much rather see them work towards eliminating the current debt of students and recent graduates,” said Asencio.

The plan has also suggested to change the requirements for student’s getting aid by requiring them to complete a certain percentage of classes to continue receiving aid.

“If I had to worry less about school loans, I would definitely spend more time taking more classes,” said Jason Arado, a junior computer engineering major, who is a Pell Grant recipient and about $10,000 in debt.

University Federal Relations said in a statement on their website that they plan on tracking any progress made by the Obama’s initiative as it coincides with many FIU priorities, such as the Graduation Success Initiative which helps students graduate on time with less debt.

Sauls hopes future news on the plan recognizes the important role urban universities play in creating a direct link to the economic prosperity of the country.

President Obama expects the plan to start taking effect by the 2015 school year.

“The devil is in the details,” said Sauls. “While it looks like we would do comparatively well, no matter much how they change Pell Grants, it has the potential of affecting our students.”



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