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Ponnada: Aid shopping sheet necessary

BY SRI PONNADA | DECEMBER 07, 2012 6:30 AM

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Trying to decide which college to commit to was probably the hardest thing for me during my senior year. I was getting pretty packages from colleges all over the place, promising me the world. Unfortunately, what many colleges deliver to most students is a huge amount of debt that the poor souls spend the rest of their lives struggling to repay.

An estimated two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2011 had student-loan debt, with an average of $26,600, according to a recent report published by Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt.

The new standardized financial-aid shopping sheet being introduced at UI is absolutely necessary. It is intended to enable participating institutions to let students know about their financial-aid package.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the sheet is designed to simplify the information that prospective students receive about costs and financial aid so that they can easily compare institutions and make informed decisions about where to attend school.

Seventy-two percent of college graduates in Iowa have debt. Iowa currently ranks fourth in the nation in terms of states with the highest proportion of graduates with debt. Average debt for graduates in this state is $28,753 — it’s higher than the national average. Whereas 56 percent of graduates from the University of Iowa have debt compared with 69 percent at Iowa State University, average debt of graduates at UI is $27,480. That isn’t anything to be happy about — especially if you’re one of the grizzly graduates paying it.

Despite the debt, college enrollment has continued to grow. At UI, enrollment went from 30,893 for the first semester of the 2011-12 academic year to a record high of 31,498 students in fall 2012.

Colleges, however, are still mesmerizing students with their fancy resources and bright brochures and insisting that cost isn’t something that these students and their parents need to be worried about.
Who wants to go out shopping and not know how much that really cute pair of shoes costs? The same applies to college – which costs a lot more than those new pair of shoes.


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