Majority of UA students content with financial aid, survey says
A recent survey questioning UA students' satisfaction with financial aid packages revealed that while most students find the assistance sufficient, the system is still not ideal.
The University of Arizona Student Financial Aid department sent 1,250 surveys to a random sampling of students in late September. About 37 percent of the questionnaires were returned.
Received award letter with enough time to plan education
Agree - 62%
Neutral - 21%
Disagree - 15%
Had long waits in financial aid line
Agree - 47%
Neutral - 22%
Disagree - 30%
Work harder in school because receive financial aid
Agree - 53%
Neutral - 26%
Disagree - 21%
Put off buying health care because receive financial aid
Agree - 34%
Neutral - 10%
Disagree - 57%
Satisfied with housing conditions
Agree - 75%
Neutral - 14%
Disagree - 11%
Content with quality and variety of food consumed
Agree - 60%
Neutral - 20%
Disagree - 20%
Chose a different major because of financial aid concerns
Agree - 12%
Neutral - 8%
Disagree - 80%
"The goal was to see if there are areas we need to put more effort into," said John Nametz, financial aid director.
The 40-question survey, which is conducted every three years, included queries regarding students' satisfaction with paperwork instructions, quality of living and financial counseling.
Almost 17 percent of UA students indicated that they would like to receive more budget planning consultation.
Nametz said the university offers personal and group finance counseling, although enrollment is low in the programs.
The financial aid office extends about 3,000 invitations for the programs each semester, and typically about 140 students enroll, he said.
"We should have about 700 to 800 people signing up for the sessions," Nametz said.
The study also found that 23 percent of the students surveyed felt that employment pressure negatively affects grade point averages.
"(This) tells us if you're working too much it can affect your grades," Nametz said. "People who are working a lot of hours maybe aren't in the best place to be students."
While about 25 percent of the students indicated they would like to have borrowed less money, 73 percent said they would not have been able to attend college without financial aid.
Also, about 20 percent of the sampling indicated that they were unable to enroll in classes that require special fees.
Nametz said only a few classes cost extra and the fee is usually under $50.
The surveys also help the financial aid office estimate student expenses, including phone calls, recreation and clothing. Nametz added that the financial aid office would like to offer students estimates on various living expenses such as housing, food and transportation.
Information compiled from the surveys is used to solicit state and federal funds.
In a letter to survey recipients, Phyllis Bolt Bannister, associate dean of the university college, said "accurate cost estimates are important components of institutional requests for state and federal financial aid appropriations."
Monica Kester, a research specialist in decision and planning support, said future surveys will include questions about computer hardware and software expenses.
"We feel that it's important to ask questions on how much students spend on computing," she said.
Kester, who compiled the data, added that certain questions need to be "fine-tuned" to avoid confusion.