UI to add financial personnel for students

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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COUNCIL BLUFFS — The University of Iowa wants to lighten the load for its students.

Mark Warner, the assistant provost for enrollment management and director of Student Financial Aid, said Thursday at the state Board of Regents meeting the university will add two full-time staff positions to help students make sense of the intricacies of financial aid and make sure students do not borrow more than they need.

At the UI, 16,771 students received financial aid during the 2012-13 school year. Warner said communication with students has been a major focus of the Financial Aid Advisory  Committee this year.

“When you start out, you start out with a first-year, first-time student,” Warner said. “They are not always money savvy.”

He said often times students and parents are not always on the same page.  He also stressed making sure students are aware of the real costs of college, not just tuition.

“You have to be able to have communication with parents and students,” he said.

Those who graduated from the UI in 2012-13 academic year had an average debt of $27,304, according to the report.

An April 21 Gallup poll indicated that 21 percent of those ages 18 to 29, and 14 percent of those ages 30-49, felt that college expenses and loans were the top financial problems facing their families.

To help keep debt in check, the UI will award more scholarships. The Iowa Scholars Award, which increased from $1,000 for 2012-13 to $2,000 in 2013-14, will increase again this year. The award will now be granted on two levels, Warner said. The first will be a total of $8,000, awarded in $2,000 increments for four years. Level two will be a $1,000 per year award for a total of $4,000 awarded over four years.

Diana Gonzalez, the chief academic officer for the regents, said by type and by source, the largest amount of assistance for students are from federal loans.

Overall, $998 million were awarded to regent students in financial aid. Of that, $546 million was from federal loans and grants.

Warner said approximately 53 percent of the aid UI students received came from federal loans and grants, but fewer than 1 percent of aid for UI students came from the state government, Warner said.

The UI will also continue the Golden Pledge campaign, launched by UI President Sally Mason. 

Mason has pledged to match the income of donor gifts of $100,000 or more. Warner said he expects around $426,000 to be available from this fund for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Other regent institutions are taking steps to aid students as well.

Iowa State University will launch a financial literacy center to help students understand and manage their debt.

Regent Katie Mullholland, the head of the Education and Student Affairs Committee, said she is happy with the efforts being made to help students.

“I have to say I really appreciate the unique and different approaches,” she said.

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