UT Students Divided Over Financial Aid

The student body appears to be divided in terms of being satisfied with how financial aid is distributed here at the university.

When choosing a college to attend, financial assistance is high on the list for most. Second-year UT student Stephanie Dutka choose the University of Tampa because more financial aid was given to her in comparison to the other schools she applied to. “I know a lot of people here who are benefiting from some form of aid,” said Dutka.

Sophomore student Farai Granderson from Barbados also feels pleased with the financial help provided to her through the school. “They do provide for mostly everything I get,” said Granderson. “Last semester I got need-based assistance, which practically cut my tuition in half.” Though the university gives information brochures on how to receive aid, it’s up to the individual to research and figure out how to retain it, according to Granderson.

For every satisfied student, there is another that believes the university has neglected their responsibilities of making sure that everyone is informed. Junior Brett Kotcher from Long Island received little money from financial aid. “I think, for the most part, that the money is available but [there is] not enough advertising to the students of what is available,” said Kotcher. “The main concern is that it is not really talked about.”

UT student Caley Webber can relate to Kotcher’s ideas. “The school makes it really complex as far as figuring out how to get more money,” said Webber. “I would like to receive more but don’t know how.” The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an online application for the purpose of receiving financial assistance. While trying to fill out the application online, Webber realized that her parents had to give their information and add their income. According to Webber, that contributes to reducing the amount of aid she is granted.

“When dealing with the financial aid procedure state, federal and university rules with aid all have to be compiled accordingly,” said Barbara Strickler, the school’s Vice President for Enrollment. The university has no control over how much money a student receives when filling out their FAFSA application. The purpose of it is to provide the students with need-based financial assistance; therefore, each individual’s amount granted will vary depending on their circumstances. That’s a federal rule.

Every student that applies or shows interest to the university gets information in the form of a brochure on how to apply for aid, as well as their eligibility, according to Strickler. E-mails are also sent out with direct links to the financial aid section on the school’s website. “Scholarships are distributed far and wide,” said Strickler. “When a student applies they are automatically set-up for scholarships based on their test scores, GPA and other criteria.”

Presentations are conducted about financial aid at open house and when student tours are in progress. “Every year in February a financial aid workshop is given for new students and their parents,” said Strickler. “Financial aid is one of the top three decision factors when choosing UT, and we try to make sure people get as much as they need.”

A lot of students find themselves benefiting from outside aid with scholarships from other organizations, which are accepted here at the university. However, a student’s scholarship may not exceed their financial need, which is actually a rule set by the federal government and not the university, says Strickler. If outside aid has allowed the student to surpass their financial need-based limit, the university may have to reduce their aid so that it’s not over their limit.

“Financial aid all depends on the individual’s need and their GPA,” said Strickler. “86 percent of students last year received some form of aid.” The percentage for this year’s students benefiting from aid is not yet available.

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