Huntington to bridge gap from state grants shortfall

Huntington, Ind.-Huntington University students concerned about reductions in state grants can breathe easier. The university has stepped up to cover the difference for the 253 students affected by Indiana's cuts to individual student awards.

The university's action comes in response to the July 17 decision by the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana to lower the cap on grants by 31 percent. Although the state legislature boosted funding for student aid in this year's budget, an increase of more than 60,000 additional applications statewide limited the amount of money available for each eligible college student.

"For most of the Huntington students affected, the SSACI decision meant losing between $2,000 and $4,000 in state aid for the 2009-2010 academic year," said Nate Perry, director of undergraduate admissions at Huntington University. "With classes starting in just a few weeks, the timing could not be worse."

"Since the SSACI announcement, we have been working hard to find ways to soften the blow for families already feeling stretched by the economy," said Huntington University President G. Blair Dowden. "We do not want them to have to bear this burden alone."

For the coming academic year, Huntington University will restore 100 percent of lost Indiana state awards, replacing reduced state grants with institutional aid, Dowden explained. "These new university grants will be funded through the strategic use of a $700,000 contingency fund created by the Board of Trustees several years ago-money set aside for a rainy day," he said.

Huntington University students affected by the shortfall will receive a letter from the university president, an updated financial award letter, and an updated billing statement. The new financial award letter will include institutional aid to replace lost state grants.

Perry said new applicants for the fall term could qualify to receive the university's replacement grant. Huntington will develop financial aid packages for new applicants on the same basis as for those students already accepted to the university.

"The economic challenges we face are significant," Dowden said. "Yet, we want to do everything in our power to help ensure students' success. Throughout our history, when times were tough, Huntington's faculty, staff and students pulled together to meet challenges head-on."

Huntington University's response to state-aid cuts is the latest in a series of measures designed to help students manage the cost of higher education. Earlier this week, Huntington named the participants selected for its Huntington University Questa Scholars Payback Program. Through this program, made possible by a partnership with the Questa Foundation for Education, eligible Allen County students can have up to 75 percent of their college loans forgiven after graduation.