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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
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The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Requests for aid expected to rise in 2009

Michigan schools are feeling the effects of the economic recession as thousands of college students request reevaluations of their financial aid status.

So far this year, NMU’s financial aid office has already received 243 requests from students who wish to have their financial aid status reevaluated. For the entire 2008-2009 school year, NMU received a total of 257 requests, which was a 60 percent increase from the year prior. Mike Rotundo, the director of financial aid at NMU, said that he expects the number of requests this year to increase.

“We are on track to exceed, substantially, the number that we had last year,” he said.
Some students may want to have a reevaluation of their financial aid for 2009-2010 if their financial situation has changed within the year, said Rotundo. Since most student information is based on the previous year’s tax information and FAFSA forms, some may want to update their information if a parent has lost a job, gotten divorced, if someone in their family has received excessive medical expenses or for any number of other reasons, he said.

“We know that things change,” said Rotundo, “We have the ability to go back and reevaluate a family’s financial situation and see if it allows an improvement in their financial aid.”

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With a reassessment of their financial situation, a student could be qualified for a Pell Grant or an unsubsidized loan that they otherwise would not have been eligible for, said Rotundo. The majority of students who file a request for reevaluation see some sort of change in their eligibility.

Schools across Michigan have seen similar increases in requests for financial aid. Appeals for reevaluation at Western Michigan University have increased 59 percent from last year. Ferris State University (FSU) has seen a 70 percent increase so far this year, totaling 573 requests, said Rob Wirt, the director of financial aid at FSU.

“We have seen our appeals for having financial aid reevaluated . increase dramatically this year,” said Wirt.

This year, FSU has also seen a 22 percent increase in the number of Pell Grants awarded to their students.

“It’s another indication of the increase in financial need of our students,” said Wirt.

NMU typically averages 2,800 students who receive a Pell Grant throughout the school year, said Rotundo. Currently, 2,350 grants have already been awarded this semester and more people are likely to receive the grant this year.

“That number is going to jump,” said Rotundo.

The federal government has increased the amount of money awarded with the Pell Grant; this year the neediest families will receive $5,350 instead of last year’s $4,731, said Rotundo.

Approximately 80 percent of NMU students receive some form of financial aid, ranging from grants and scholarships to student loans. The 9.8 percent increase in NMU supported scholarships that was approved by the Board of Trustees this summer will allow the financial aid office to get more money into the hands of students who need it the most, said Rotundo.

With the increase in requests for reevaluations, some students have found themselves waiting to find out about their own financial aid status. Carrie Hartz, a senior elementary education major, put in her request at the beginning of August.

“I have not heard a word from them yet. I’m still waiting,” said Hartz.

Hartz said that she put in her request after she noticed that a grant that she had received for the past three years had been reduced. Hartz, whose father was laid off this year, said that because her financial aid information was from last year, her expected family contribution was actually larger than it had been previously.

“I wasn’t asking for tons of money, but something that I received for three years. I was expecting it again because my family’s financial status had changed quite a bit compared to all other years,” she said.

Hartz said that not knowing the results of her reevaluation has taken a toll on her already.

“I’m worried enough about my grades, but the burden of whether I can pay for school is a whole other thing. If you don’t pay, you can’t stay at school and that’s really scary,” said Hartz.

Hartz submitted a letter from her father’s company saying that he was laid off, his recent pay stubs, her tax returns and her parents’ tax returns, along with her forms when she turned her request in. Rotundo said that it was very important for students to include such information with their requests so that they can be processed as quickly as possible.

“The better the documentation that comes with the request, the faster we can move,” said Rotundo.

For request for reevaluation forms, visit www.nmu.edu/financialaid/.

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