College education costs sure aren’t what they used to be. In the past 40 years, there has been a 1,120 percent increase in tuition and associated fees for higher education which, as Bloomberg points out, is more than four times the rate of other basic consumer interests like food and medical expenses.
And since those costs don’t seem to be backing down any time soon, many students and their parents are feeling the financial crunch. And the only option for some families to make college dreams come true is via grants and scholarships from their chosen university.
But for many Midwest students, that type of financial assistance seems to be going the way of the buffalo.
And it might be due, at least in part, to one seemingly unlikely reason.
Is geographical diversity to blame for lack of financial aid?
Geographical diversity is crucial to the university ecosystem. Ideally, schools want a variety of students from different states and countries to fill out their student body. And with that variety comes the obligation of dispersing available financial aid according to diversity requirements.
Midwest students hoping to attend college in their home states might not be getting as much financial aid as they hoped for (if any at all), thanks in part to an influx of students from Illinois.
Universities in neighboring Midwest states have reported an increase in applications specifically from Illinois students. With the state budget in limbo and university costs making an in-state education seemingly unaffordable, Illinois students are finding that options in surrounding states are more realistic, especially when they can grab a piece of financial aid their out-of-state diversity entitles them to.
And since these Illinois prospects can help these schools achieve their geographical diversity requirements, everyone wins… except Illinois public universities and students who can’t meet diversity requirements.
The Impact of the Illinois Exodus Hits Everyone
According to the US Census Bureau, Illinois universities have lost more than 10,000 students per year between 2000 and 2014. That’s far more than any other Midwestern state.
Admissions data indicates that applications for the 2016-17 fall semester have fallen at four of the state’s 12 public schools. These four schools just so happen to be some of the smaller public universities that, even without a drop in applications, don’t have the same tuition and research grant money coming in that larger schools do.
Granted, Illinois schools accepted around 2,000 out-of-state students in 2014, but that does not come close to making up for its 16,000 resident students that left the state for educational advancement.
But this mass student exodus from the state’s public college system could be dealing more fatal blows than many people realize.
With less tuition to fuel college budgets, it’s only a matter of time before layoffs and other cuts send operations into a tailspin that won’t be easily righted. Some experts fear that students who heed their educational calling across state lines may just stay there after graduation, which could mean a slowdown in the Illinois economy – and more competition for in-state students in the post-graduation job market.
How to Ensure You Get Your Fair Share of Financial Aid – Despite of or Because of Diversity
Whether you are fleeing the crumbling Illinois public university system or attend a Midwestern college with a growing population of Illinois student transplants, you could be missing out on financial aid opportunities. But how would you know?
Truthfully, it helps to recruit the help of a financial aid expert.
Financial aid award letters can often be confusing, especially for students who are just beginning their college journeys. And the fact that each university is responsible for generating their own award letters only adds to the confusion. That’s when it’s helpful to find a third party professional that puts your best interest first and helps ensure your award offer is fair.
Especially if your entire future relies on it.