Scholarships and grants are a student’s best friends when combatting high student debt from student loans offered by both the government and private lenders.
In 2014 the average student debt in Michigan was $29,450 with Ferris coming in well above average at $35,720. This mark ranks Ferris as the second highest of public universities in the state for the amount of debt a student leaves with after a four-year degree.
There are ways to get around this high debt, and schol- arships and grants at Ferris have recently gotten a boost from a returned tax surplus paid by the state totaling $18.6 million. The Ferris Board of Trustees voted to put the money toward scholarships and to grow the money to $32 million by 2022.
“I’m taking advantage of many of the scholarships that Ferris offers, like the Pell Grant, Provost’s scholarship, and the freshman residential life,” said Ferris plastics en- gineering freshman Logan Kucharski. “I’m also receiving the Michigan competitive scholarship and financial aid from the tuition incentive program (TIP).”
Paid summer internships can be a good way to earn some experience and make some money to offset the cost of paying for internship credits. Kucharski said he’s taking an internship this summer to help with his career and to make some money this summer.
“I’ve also met a fair bit of people who move off campus to one of the cheaper apartments or houses after their first year, because living off campus is seen as cheaper in the long run,” said Kucharski.
Ferris secondary education freshman Mariah Gaither said she’s also taking advantage of Michigan’s TIP scholarship and Ferris State’s Provost’s scholarship.
“I’ve been fortunate enough not to take out any loans yet, so I’m definitely trying to avoid those all together by looking into different scholarships and ways to cut costs,” said Gaither. “In general, I’m just trying to avoid taking out loans for at least my first two years to keep the student debt at a minimum for the most part.”
Gaither said she’s also looking into a meal plan and crunching the numbers as a way to keep costs down.
“I’m a TIP scholar; it’s money for students from low-income families. I’ve had the advantage of being a TIP scholar for two years, which saved me a ton on finances. It helped me to pay for my apartment off campus and my schooling,” said Ferris psychology and sports communi- cation senior Alex Freeman. “I still get some of that TIP money, but it’s a lot less now that I’m in phase two of the program.”
Freeman said he’s always been good with finances and hasn’t been one to spend money unnecessarily.
“I had a teacher in high school who told me to save 10 percent of what I made,” said Freeman. “And when I worked in high school, I saved 90 percent of what I made and spent 10 percent. I inverted that totally.”
Education on what’s available for tuition assistance would be great for many people coming into college, said Freeman.
“In our generation specifically, there’s a lot of kids who are first generation college students,” said Freeman. “My brother and I are the first generation to go to college. We didn’t know anything, so there was a lot of trial and error. So, the more students can be taught about what’s out there, the better off they’ll be.”
Ferris has a number of different scholarships offered for incoming freshman, and lots of other scholarships and grants that are program specific, or are based on a minority status or for military families.
“There are several tiers of scholarships, including Founder’s, President’s, Provost’s, Dean’s, Gold and Crimson,” said Ferris financial aid advisor Krissy Workman. “The scholarships are automatically awarded based on students’ high school grade point averages and their ACT or SAT score.”
There are other requirements once students are attending Ferris to retain the scholarships, but they’re straight forward and allow for continuation all the way through to a bachelor’s degree.
“The scholarships offered from Ferris are eligible to be renewed for up to four years as long as they maintain the required GPA and remain enrolled every semester at least full time, which is 12 credit hours or more,” said Workman. Students should submit a FAFSA every year to determine eligibility for financial aid and grants according to Workman. Students who file may be eligible for grants and need-based scholarships.
Online resources provided online from the Ferris State Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid are “Scholarship Essay Writing Tips”, and “Scholarship Search Links.” Both of these resources can be found on Ferris State’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid’s website.