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UA News
Students get more, faster aid this year

By Cyndy Cole
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday September 4, 2002

This year's trends show students relying more on loans and grants, and a greater percentage hailing from Maricopa County

UA has more needy students this year than last in what looks to be a record year of enrollment, but students applied for and received their loans faster than in past years, administrators said.

This spring, 2,000 more letters went out informing students they had loans to claim, but 1,000 fewer students than last year were reminded last month that they had loans to claim.

"I really have to give credit to students. They're on top of it as a group. We're really fortunate here," said John Nametz, director of student financial aid.

Yet more students had financial need this year.

The number of UA students receiving Pell grants or students with moderate to great financial need swelled 9 percent this year, Nametz said.

Stafford loans, which can be awarded based on financial need or without need, are up this year too.

UA received 8 percent more registration dollars in the form of Stafford loans this year than last, though students are still shying away from unsubsidized loans, where interest accrues while the student is in school.

More students claimed loans faster this year, reversing the yearly trend of UA reminding students to process loan applications.

All this despite what could be a record year for combined graduate and undergraduate student enrollment at UA.

The largest enrollment to date was 36,676 students in 1989, said Rick Kroc, director of assessment and enrollment research.

If this year's freshman class size comes close to last year's record-breaking influx, UA could set a new record for total enrollment.

UA will see whether enrollment breaks a new record after the number of students enrolled in UA courses on Sept. 16 is totaled and released a few days later.

While it's difficult to determine whether the average UA student is poorer or richer this year than last by the numbers, because students in higher income brackets often don't have need for loans, signs point to UA students being more cautious about spending this year.

Students from Maricopa County are staying closer to home for college due to economic reasons, Kroc said.

"I think the economy has gone south in a hurry," he said.

Now that the economy's in worse shape, more students are taking out loans, Kroc said.

But this year students requested and received their loans faster than in years past.

Nametz credits the use of Student Link for registration payments and online loan claims for speeding the process along.

And this year fewer students were caught in a last minute cash crunch.

The Office of Student Financial Aid had distributed $568,000 in emergency loans loans given to students in emergencies, or those who are waiting on financial aid checks as of Aug. 23, as opposed to $902,000 distributed at the same point last year, Nametz said.

More than 350 students received emergency loans this year.

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