Joyce Hall, Purdue's executive director of the Division of Financial Aid.
Facing a downturn in the economy, some families are wondering how they can afford college educations for their daughters and sons. The truth is, college can still be affordable, and in today's economy you can't afford not to go to college. The trick is in understanding how to tap into financial aid.
We recommend March 1 as the deadline for everyone planning to attend college next year to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA is an application for institutional aid, federal assistance and state of Indiana aid. The state of Indiana requires the FAFSA record be received by a March 10 deadline. Once the FAFSA is filed, you'll receive priority consideration for most types of federal, state and university-controlled financial aid.
Students can find help online at most universities. At Purdue, we offer many online resources at www.purdue.edu/dfa, including a financial aid calculator that will help you predict your costs and how much financial aid is available to you.
While the amount of available funds differs from year to year, the university tries to cover as much of eligible students' educational costs as possible. Last year, 79 percent of Purdue students received some type of aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and/or student employment opportunities.
Institutional scholarships based on income and/or merit can be substantial. Of all the scholarships and grants awarded to undergraduates at Purdue last year, 46 percent were university funded, 26 percent were federally funded, 19 percent were state funded and 9 percent were privately funded.
For students involved in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program, the new Purdue Promise program helps those whose families earn less than $40,000. In combination with other financial aid sources, including work study, the Purdue Promise will meet the full financial need of eligible students and is renewable for up to four years. The Purdue Promise award package also includes support services designed to help students succeed both academically and socially.
Another new Purdue program is reaching out with an average of $2,000 in scholarships a year for high school seniors from middle-income families in Indiana. This is a group that often does not qualify for state or federal need-based aid.
Purdue's top merit-based scholarships are given to students on the basis of high academic quality, high test scores and/or special talents or abilities. These Presidential and Trustees scholarships already are helping nearly 1,500 Indiana students, covering most of their fees. No application is needed. The scholarships are based on applications and test scores received by mid-November of each year.
I believe Purdue University remains one of the nation's best values in higher education. Two prominent publications agree. SmartMoney magazine recently ranked the university ninth nationally in its college "payback" survey.