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Bloomington Herald-Times articles

May 30, 2006

IU students could face aid shortfall; Reduction in grant limit means some won't get the funds they were promised
by Steve Hinnefeld
May 30, 2006

About 400 students who plan to enroll at Indiana University this fall could be in for a rude surprise. The financial aid they've been promised could be reduced by as much as $1,000.

IU officials said they are upset about the situation, which results from a change in the maximum state grant announced last week by the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana.

"We're under a lot of pressure to make IU accessible to all Hoosiers," said university spokesman Larry MacIntyre. "This is one of the best tools we have for doing that, and we've just been undercut."

They're also miffed that the change affects students at public universities but not those at private colleges, who can get bigger grants. "We don't think the private grants should be more than the public," MacIntyre said.

Indiana provides college funding for needy students through its Frank O'Bannon grants, named for the former governor. The grants last year totaled $136 million.

In March, the student-assistance commission said the maximum grant in 2006-07 for students at public universities could be $6,756 - a big increase from last year. IU officials took the figure and ran with it, telling students who qualified for the maximum that that's what they would get.

But last week, the commission reduced the maximum from its previous estimate. It said the most public university students can receive will be $5,692.

Dennis Obergfell, the commission's deputy director, said grants for public university students will still increase by 10 percent this year. Officials had hoped to do even better, he said, but conditions changed, with more students qualifying for the grants and Congress making changes that affected Indiana aid decisions. Finally, state legislators recently told the commission that it shouldn't expect big funding increases.

"The reality is, we're increasing awards to students in publics by 10 percent over last year," he said. "That's significant."

The change in the maximum grant affects Indiana's four most expensive public campuses: IU-Bloomington, where in-state tuition and fees next year will be $7,460, IUPUI, Purdue and Ball State.

As for why the grant for students at Indiana private colleges isn't changing, commission staff said it's because that figure was increasing by only 2.6 percent. The maximum grant for private colleges will be $10,272 next year.

The policy that gives the biggest grants to students attending private colleges is set by the Legislature, not the commission, they said.

"We have statutes and follow the law," said Nick Vesper, director of policy analysis and research at the commission.

But officials admitted the timing of last week's news was a problem. High school seniors decide what colleges to attend in the spring, and they need to know how much it will cost. IU notifies incoming freshmen in March of their aid packages, including federal and state grants, loans and work-study opportunities. By May, students have accepted or rejected the offers.

Aid packages haven't yet been sent to returning IU students, but they will face the same cap on state grants as freshmen.

James Kennedy, IU director of financial aid, said about 1,600 newly admitted Bloomington students were offered state-funded grants. About 400 with the greatest financial need were offered more than $5,692, the maximum grant, and will be affected by the change.

That leaves it for IU officials to decide whether to tell students they won't get as much aid as promised, or to use the university's own funds to make up the difference.

"It's hard to get a handle on, but we're very concerned," Kennedy said. "Our high-need students really need these funds."

In brief

Indiana University notified some newly admitted students in March that they would get state grants of up to $6,756. Now it turns out they may get $1,000 less than that. IU officials say the change undercuts their efforts to provide access to students with the most financial need.

Sampson supported by the IU faithful
by Ryan Dammeyer
May 27, 2006

After hearing about the NCAA's Thursday ruling against Indiana University men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson that will limit his recruiting activities for a calendar year, this is what some Bloomington residents and IUstudents had to say Friday about Sampson, the university's reputation and the effect of the sanctions on the recruiting process:

"I don't think it hurts our reputation at all because he didn't do it here, so just because he has sanctions on him that followed him, he didn't do it at IU, so I don't think he's a dirty coach. It was just phone calls, and it's just a one-year thing."

-- Kevin Caress, 20, student

"I don't think it's fair that IU has to suffer because of the mistakes that the coach made back at Oklahoma. If (recruits) are talking to the head coach of another school, it's really going to affect whether we're going to be able to talk to them or not."

-- Jessica Hamke, 21, student

"It's unfair if IU can't get any recruits now because of something he did at another school. It reflects badly on his character, because if he knew what he was doing and did it anyway, that's bad on his part."

-- DeShunda Jones, 19, student

"People come to IU for the tradition of IU, so I think that it's going to continue despite the situation the coach has. This is Hoosierville, so I believe that's not going to be affected. It's crazy that he made too many calls. They call that cheating? It's not like he robbed a bank."

-- Shannon Hogan, 31, owner of Secret Expressions in College Mall

"The university should have picked a better coach if they knew he had baggage with him. Somebody that can at least go out and recruit and put IU on a winning streak. That year can make a big difference."

-- Ebony Brown, 19, student

"I think it's going to hurt the recruitment because (recruits) are going to want to talk in person or have one-on-one communication with the head coach. That whole situation just puts us one step below other schools they're trying to choose between. It puts us a whole year behind."

-- Adrienne Brockman, 21, student

"I think a lot of universities do it anyhow, and he got caught; he's paying for it. The punishment is fair, and I don't think it was that serious of an infringement. The IU reputation is intact, and it will stay intact. The fact that IU is not going to lessen the punishment shows that (the university) doesn't condone it and that they're not trying to get him out of it."

-- Damian Dittmer, 53, St. Vincent DePaul

"They don't want to have to go through that search again, finding another coach, and he's done a great job of recruiting already. Some of the antics that Bobby Knight pulled, and I'm a big fan, I don't think this should really matter. He'll be fine, and (IU) knew this when they hired him."

-- Rosemary Biggs, 58, Cook Inc.