Major changes for in-state tuition aid

Beginning next fall, Guilford students who live in North Carolina will face considerable changes to their financial aid packages. The N.C. General Assembly recently cut several state-based financial grants.

Budget pressures have led to the discontinuation of the N.C. Legislative Tuition Grant , N.C. Contractual Scholarship Funds, and the N.C. Lottery Scholarship.

The most widely awarded financial aid of the three, the NCLTG, has been around for over 35 years and is not need-based. Recent budget shortfalls have led the General Assembly to make cuts. In the 2008-2009 academic year, NCLTG appropriated nearly 60 million dollars to eligible students.

To put that number in perspective, one academic year at Guilford costs approximately $43,000. The total funds awarded in 2008 could have provided one Guilford student with enough money to attend school for 1,395 years.

These former scholarships and grants are being replaced by a single need-based scholarship that has yet to be named. According to the Guilford Beacon, the budget for this is limited, and, as such, awards will be appropriated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Junior Cody Sblendorio currently receives the NCLTG, and believes the move by the General Assembly to cut funding for the grant goes against a national emphasis on education.

“Although the deficit is high and we need to concentrate on fixing our economy, it’s important that we don’t do it at the expense of education,” Sblendorio said. “The loss (of the grants) could jeopardize students’ ability to come here. Guilford is an expensive school.”

Deborah Stephens, CCE SGA secretary, is worried about the lack of publicity and the effect it could have on CCE students, in particular.

“We’re almost like transients … we come and we go and we’re not necessarily connected,” Stephens said. “It’s important to me to make sure that all the CCE students file their FAFSA as soon as they can on Jan. 1, 2012 in order to qualify for any financial aid.

“One of the incentives to go to this college has been the NCLTG for CCE students because it actually almost covers the cost of one whole class. With a couple hundred more dollars, we’re able to have at least one class paid for, and then maybe through Pell Grants or additional loans, we’re able to attend college here. So losing that kind of money out of our financial aid package is really critical to whether we’re going to be able to continue or not.”

Students who wish to receive funds from the yet-to-be-named scholarship are advised to fill out a FAFSA form after Jan. 1, as the scholarship is limited. Financial aid counselors are available in New Garden Hall.

Guilford’s stance towards financial aid is available on its website: “We make every effort, within the limits of our available financial aid resources, to assure that no qualified student will be denied the opportunity to attend Guilford College simply because they lack adequate funds.”

According to Student Financial Services, approximately 92 percent of all Guilford students are receiving financial assistance. Of those, approximately 58 percent are receiving aid based on financial need.