WWU offers help to weather the economy
For families relying on investments and two steady incomes to pay for college, the country’s economic melt-down could not have come at a worse time.
And while families throughout the state worry about their own economic futures, Western Washington University waits as the state Legislature hammers out a 2009-2011 biennial budget that accommodates an expected revenue shortfall of more than $5 billion.
In what may be a preview of the final budget, the governor last month proposed a 5-percent cut in Western’s operating budget.
Not much will be known about what kinds of budget cuts – or tuition increases – Western and families will face until the state budget is completed later this spring. Western receives 60 percent of its operating revenue from the state; the rest comes from tuition and fees.
Regardless of what the state budget looks like, paying for college will be a tighter squeeze this year for both the state and families.Keep Financial Aid informed
First, families whose financial circumstances have changed, particularly because of a job loss or other loss of income, should consider requesting a recalculation of their aid eligibility.
Financial aid for the 2008-2009 school year is based on families’ 2007 income. So parents whose income has changed since 2007 can file a Request to Adjust Parent Contribution Form. There is a similar form to adjust students’ contributions as well.
That said, Capron worries there may be a reduction in state and federal student aid available next school year. Meanwhile, she expects an increase in applications for financial aid.
“Financial Aid will be asked to try to do more with less available aid,” she said.
So Capron can’t promise that families who are suddenly eligible for more aid will get it.
“We can only assure them that we will recalculate their aid eligibilities and award them additional aid on a fundsavailable basis,” she said.
Eileen Coughlin, Western’s vice president for student affairs and academic support services, wishes there were easy answers for families facing tough decisions. “Just know that even in a down economy higher education is still a great investment,” Coughlin said.