State funds for student aid up slightly for CMU

Colorado Mesa University will receive a 3 percent boost in state financial aid funding in 2012–13 but less money per student.

The university is expected to experience a double digit percentage growth in enrollment again this fall after experiencing a 14 percent jump in student numbers in 2011–12 compared with the previous year. CMU Vice President of Student Services John Marshall said financial aid allocations are calculated using a three-year average of enrollment, which he said does not accurately reflect the most recent growth at the university.

Federal Pell Grants and state financial aid awards account for three-quarters of financial aid funding at Colorado Mesa, where Marshall said 45 percent of the student population in 2011–12 was eligible for financial aid. At the same time state funding has increased at a slower rate than enrollment, the federal government has moved the cutoff line for Pell funding so some middle class families no longer qualify. Marshall said CMU has tried to supplement decreases in the amount of state and federal financial aid available per student with increases in institutional aid, including merit-based scholarships and a Colorado Mesa work study program called MavWorks.

“Essentially what we do is carve off resources” to pay for MavWorks, Marshall said. “We’ve had to dedicate funds that would otherwise go to the classroom.”

Marshall said the resources funneled to MavWorks have not decreased classroom quality and cuts have focused mainly on “efficiencies.”

Colorado Mesa was one of five public state schools, along with Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Fort Lewis College and University of Northern Colorado, to get an overall year-over-year boost in state financial aid allocations this year.

Celina Duran, financial aid administrator for the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said at a Colorado Commission on Higher Education meeting earlier this month that a financial aid reduction of as much as 30 percent was a possibility, but instead state financial aid allocations for 2012–13 decreased 1 percent overall compared with 2011–12. The state’s total financial aid award to higher education institutions this year was $90.2 million, $3.8 million of which went to Colorado Mesa. The 1 percent adjustment in need-based grants and work-study awards accounted for a required increase in financial aid for Native American students attending Fort Lewis College through the Native American Tuition Assistance program.


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