$how me the money

Ferris to receive additional state funding to invest in financial aid

Halloween may be weeks away, but Christmas has come early to Ferris’ financial aid office.

Ferris was awarded additional state funding because the university limited its tuition increase for the 2012-13 academic year. Ferris announced that the funds will be used for one-time student grants.

In June, Ferris’ Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by 2.69 percent for the current school year. The increase was the second lowest of Michigan’s 15 public universities. Ferris placed just behind Central Michigan University, which raised tuition by two percent.

Universities that kept tuition increases under four percent received financial rewards from the state. For its efforts, Ferris received an additional $1.27 million in state funding. The additional funds are to be invested in student financial aid in the form of need-based, one-time grants. The investment is part of a continued effort to reduce student debt, according to Ferris President Dave Eisler.

Ferris sports marketing junior Amy Dunleavy appreciates the university’s effort to reduce student debt. She is relieved Ferris realizes the magnitude of the student debt issue.

“It helps to know that Ferris cares about us and wants us to be able to graduate,” Dunleavy said.

According to Eisler, the board of trustees made restraining tuition a priority when approving the 2012-13 budget. In addition, improving energy efficiency contributed to the low increase in tuition. Eisler said the reduced energy costs saved the university approximately $1 million.

The tuition restraint incentives came from a $9.1 million pot which was distributed among qualifying universities. An additional $27.2 million in state funding was available to universities that met performance benchmarks. The performance benchmarks include degree completion rates, the number of students receiving Pell grants and offering degrees in critical skill areas.

Ferris received $1.7 million in performance-based funding which brings its total state funding to $44.3 million for the 2012-13 school year.

Last year, Ferris received $41.3 million in state aid. State aid accounted for 22.4 percent of Ferris’ revenue while tuition made up 75.4 percent. In the 1991-92 school year, Ferris’ state aid was $40.9 million and accounted for 55.1 percent of the school’s revenue. Tuition accounted for 43.4 percent of Ferris’ revenue.

With students becoming more and more responsible for the financial costs of higher education, college graduates find themselves with an increasing amount of debt. Of Michigan’s public universities, Ferris students graduate with the most average debt at $35,468, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The state average is $25,143 per student.

“Knowing you have debt coming out of school is a constant worry,” Dunleavy said. “Every day I think about when I’m going to have to start paying it back.”

More than 50 percent of current Ferris students qualify for Pell grants. Pell grants are federal grants given to low-income students.

“One of the challenges we have at Ferris is a lot of our students have a lot of need,” Eisler said.

Eisler welcomes the incentive money but notes that $2.93 million in one-time funding limits how the university can use the money.

“Hopefully we’ll do well and get some more next year,” he said. “We’re glad to get it…but it’s one time.”