Ferris has a large population of need-based students, yet financial aid from the university is slim.
On Oct. 1, the Presidential Task Force met to discuss a plan of action regarding the decline in student credit hours this semester. Ferris Director of Financial Aid Sara Dew spoke about Ferris students financial situations.
The majority of students at Ferris are need-based according to Dew. Last year, Ferris awarded 12,283 students institutional aid.
“Sixty-one percent of those, or 7,484 [students], had a result of the FAFSA that was below $7,291,” Dew said. This year we tried to cover 34 percent of the total cost which would have been $7,469.”
Ferris tries to help students through federal, state, and institutional grant money according to Dew.
The expected family contribution or “result of the FAFSA” is the amount of money the government expects a family to contribute to the cost of education for one year.
According to Dew, Ferris gives out the least amount of institutional aid to students in comparison to the other 15 public competing universities in Michigan.
Ferris gives out $1,320 to a student with a family expected contribution of zero, meaning that student is at maximum need, Dew said. Another college in the “15 public” gives out $13,229 to the same need-based student.
Dew and the financial aid office spent a combination of almost $500,000 in gift money for the fall semester.
“Of those students that were eligible for the grant money, only 35 percent of those students got gift money because I didn’t have enough to go around,” Dew said. “So that means 65 percent of my needy students got no gift money.
Students are forced to come up with the rest of the money, often through loans.
“We have the highest debt of [the 15] public universities,” Dew said.
One beneficial change from the previous year is the cost of attendance which is tuition, room and board, books and other expenses to attend college for one year.
“Our overall cost of attendance went down, last year it was $22,094 and this year it is $21,968,” Dew said.
Ferris President David Eisler organized the task force to brainstorm what actions need to be taken to combat declining credit hours.
“We did have some surprises with our enrollment this fall,” Eisler said. “We’re down almost 2,400 student credit hours. The question is why. What is different this year?”
The task force, which began meeting on Oct. 1, is open to students. It will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Fridays. For more information, contact Don Flickinger, vice president of student affairs, or email Eisler at email@example.com.
“We are here about enrollment. We are here about our students. We are here about Ferris State University,” Flickinger said.