IBHE study involves financal aid

By Paul Wagner

Student financial aid might be the subject of a study by the Illinois Board of Higher Education this summer which might be used to convince legislators to increase funding for financial programs.

The IBHE will vote on a recommendation to establish a committee, in conjunction with the Illinois State Scholarship Commission, to look into the effectiveness of student financial aid policies and will recommend modifications in aid programs to enhance student access and choice. If approved, the committee would report its findings back to the IBHE and ISSC in October so they could be used in developing the fiscal year 1989 budget.

The committee will look into levels of funding for financial aid programs, and its findings in this area might provide “ammunition to aim at the legislature” when requesting funds for programs, said Robert Clement, director of agency relations at the ISSC. “There is never enough money (for programs),” he said.

Topics the committee would look into include ways students finance college, whether state policies of access and choice are being achieved and whether programs address the needs of low income racial and ethnic groups, the recommendation stated.

The committee also would look into the educational and financial implications of possible increases of student debts. The committee would determine if new state financial aid programs are necessary, the recommendation stated.

Clement said the ISSC would use the committee’s findings to determine if modifications are needed for the ISSC’s financial aid programs. “I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Students will benefit from this (study),” he said.

“The proposal sounds like a good one,” said Jerry Augsburger, director of financial aid at NIU. However, he said he hoped representatives of the financial aid community, meaning “practicing financial aid administrators,” would be included in the study. Members of the financial aid community “can lend insight into this type of review,” he said.

Earlier this year, the IBHE released a study entitled, “Trends in Student Costs and Financial Aid.” The study reported information drawn largely from student financial aid surveys and ISSC records. The new study would follow up on the “Trends” study, the recommendation stated.

The study, released March 3, looked into changes in student financial aid but did not report on student debt burdens, how changes in financial aid affect different income groups and how students finance a college education, which would be examined by the new study, the recommendation stated.