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Students fear lack of financial aid

Students at TJC may wonder what will become of financial aid due to the economy.

“I am afraid because you hear about the recession and the stock market going down,” TJC student, Juan Orneles, said.

Melanie Davis who is also a TJC student, said that the only way she is able to go to college is through financial aid.

“It would be pretty devastating if I am not able to receive financial aid anymore. The only way you are going to make it in the world is if you have a college education,” Davis said.

Devon Wiggins, Director of Financial Aid, said that there have been proposed changes by the Obama administration that have had an effect on student loans. There have been some lenders who have exited the FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) program. As a result, students can no longer borrow from those lenders, and if they already borrowed funds from them, they will have to change lenders. “This happened in late 2007, 2008” Wiggins said.

The lenders who are no longer giving student loans to TJC students are the following: Southside Bank, EFSI, Franklin Bank, Citibank and Chase according to Wiggins.

Citibank and Chase decided not to fund most two-year colleges, TJC being one of those colleges. The rest of the lenders decided to completely exit the FFEL Program.

All federal student loans are disbursed through the FFEL Program and the Federal Direct Student Loan (FDSL) Program. The FFEL provides subsidies and assurance to private lenders while the FDSL program grants funds directly from the government.

Under the proposed changes, all consolidated loans would come directly from and be paid for by the U.S. Treasury and sent to students through the Department of Education.

Because of these changes the FFEL Program will no longer exist Wiggins said.

Wiggins said that the Pell Grant “seems to be in good shape” since it increased from $4,731 to $5,350 per year. She hasn’t seen reductions in the allocation of other grants.

In 2008, 2009 the Government approved a $2,000 increase of the maximum annual financial aid a student may receive for dependent and independent students.

Wiggins said that the financial aid department keeps their eyes on the proposals and bills just in case they would need to adjust to any changes. However the main focus remains on the bills that have already been made into law.

“The economy has serious effects on the student loan industry, but loans will still be available to students. It is just a matter of where they will be funded,” Wiggins said.

In the 2008, 2009 award year, 3,225 TJC students received Pell Grant and 3,038 students received student loans.

There are numerous banks and student loan lenders that are available to students. TJC provides a list of recommended lenders at http://www.tjc.edu in the Financial Aid section, in order to give students a starting point.

Wiggins said telling students and their parents to choose any lender they want to borrow can be very overwhelming because there are so many. If students need more information concerning student loans, they can talk to the Financial Aid department located in White Administration building.

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