July 15, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers responds to education affordability

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama released his budget, which includes initiatives to improve education from early childhood through college, according to a White House press release.

The president announced the launch of a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid Completion Initiative to make sure American high school seniors are completing the FAFSA by supporting individual school districts in the coming year.

Earlier in his term, Obama simplified the FAFSA, which has led to a 33 percent increase in the number of FAFSA forms filed over the course of his administration thus far, growing from 16.4 million in 2008 to 2009 to 21.8 million in 2012 to 2013, according to the press release.

At Rutgers University, more than 60 percent of incoming students receive some form of need-based financial aid, a number that has remained stable over the last several years, said Courtney McAnuff, vice president of Enrollment Management, in an email.

In addition to the FAFSA Completion Initiative, Obama outlined his plans for the College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus, which will seek to reward colleges that successfully enroll and graduate a significant number of low and moderate-income students on time.

McAnuff said Rutgers already enrolls 37 percent of federal Pell Grant students, which is among the highest in the nation.

“Pell Grants are designed to assist low-income families, and Rutgers is proud of its success in both enrolling and graduating a high percentage of Pell recipients,” he said.

McAnuff said Rutgers stands alone in the Association of American Universities as the only one that commits 10 percent of entering slots to low-income students.

He said the University applauds Obama’s efforts to increase financial aid, as that falls in line with Rutgers’ mission of affordability and access.

“More than $166 million in need-based grant aid was awarded to Rutgers students in the 2013 to 2014 academic year,” he said. “Our goal has been, and continues to be, making a Rutgers education accessible and affordable to all academically qualified students seeking to enroll.”

Nancy Winterbauer, vice president for University Budgeting, said in an email that Obama’s plans are only a proposal at this point, and Congress would need to provide billions of dollars in funding for these programs to be carried out.

Rutgers students would benefit from these programs, but she spoke in line with McAnuff when she stated that Rutgers has a high percentage of Pell Grant recipients and reasonably strong graduation rates at this time.

“Of course, there is much concern across higher education that the quality of data the federal government needs for such programs would have to be improved if these programs are really going to be valuable,” she said.

By Sabrina Szteinbaum

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