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Financial Aid

IN ITS SIMPLEST FORM, ENSURING the linkage between financial aid and enrollment projections is about two things: solid data analysis and communication. How many new and returning students will there be, and how much institutional grant aid will they require? Who needs to be informed of the projections, and when? Of course, the devil is always in the details. So let us break it down into the basic components.


Until last January, issuing financial aid refunds at Antelope Valley College was a long, tedious process. Instruction files were sent from the school to a remote district office, which printed checks and sent them back to the school to be stuffed into envelopes and mailed to students.

It was a time-consuming and costly procedure, explained Sherrie Padilla, director of financial aid at the community college, located in Lancaster, Calif. “We needed to investigate other ways to disburse refunds to students,” she said.

IT WAS THE DISASTER THAT DIDN'T happen, despite the headlines in national and local newspapers throughout the spring of 2008. “College Financial Aid System ‘In Crisis,’” proclaimed USA Today. “No Funds to Lend to 40,000 Students,” blared the Boston Globe. “Student Loans Start to Bypass 2-Year Colleges,” warned The New York Times.

IN AN EFFORT TO GET AMERICA’S recently unemployed workers back to work, the Obama administration has implemented several initiatives to encourage them to learn new job skills through postsecondary education. These initiatives are likely to affect higher education institutions and provide additional opportunities to educate workers who have been negatively impacted by the economic downturn.


IN THE MEDIA, FINANCIAL aid coverage tends to focus on topics such as the tensions between funding merit scholarships versus need-based grants, the growth in student and parent borrowing, and the need to increase funding for Federal Pell Grants. Federal or state work-study programs get little focus.


Hardly a day goes by without a college announcing jobs, programs, or spending cuts. You would think with all the brainpower at our colleges and universities they would be able to come up with better solutions than lopping off people, sections and services to students. But they don’t seem to. Why not?