Financial aid office stands by budget

By on October 24, 2012

This year, Quinnipiac University ranked fifth on the Princeton Review’s list of schools with the worst financial aid. Associate Vice President and University Director of Financial Aid Dominic Yoia said the school has been on the list for as long as he can remember.

“Princeton [Review] and U.S. News are in the business to sell magazines and that’s what they are doing,” Yoia said. “It’s hype, unfortunately. If you look at the other things that they query, it’s almost insulting.”

Quinnipiac joins schools including New York University, Penn State, the University of Maryland and the University of Delaware on this list made entirely from student survey results.

“I tend not to bat an eyelash when I see that come out every year,” Yoia said. “There’s over 5,000 colleges in the country. How could Quinnipiac be the fifth worst in terms of financial aid and yet our enrollment is through the roof?”

Though Yoia has not seen the survey, he suggests the way questions about financial aid are presented could be the reason these results continue to be the same.

While the results are unchanging, Yoia reports that financial aid rates are improving at Quinnipiac University.

In 1999, Quinnipiac’s financial aid budget was $14.5 million, giving a discount rate of 20 cents of financial aid to every tuition dollar. The budget for this upcoming year is $90 million and the rate  has almost doubled to 37 cents per tuition dollar.

Tuition at Quinnipiac is almost $52,000 and still on the rise.

“That number is enough to shock anybody,” Yoia said.

He suggests this shock factor comes from people neglecting to recognize financial aid in the form of academic scholarships and need-based grants that is distributed in relation to tuition. Last year, tuition increased at a rate of 4.75 percent but the financial aid also increased at a rate of 12.3 percent.

Freshman Victoria Johnson says she chose Quinnipiac largely because of the financial aid package she was offered, but still thinks the school could improve its numbers for others.

“I feel like a lot of the kids here are really well-off,” Johnson said. “But I think maybe we’re overestimating that amount.”

Eighty-three percent of students received some form of financial aid this year, but like most schools, Quinnipiac did not meet the full needs of these students. Yoia attributes this to the school’s lack of large endowments that highly selective Ivy League schools have at their disposal.

Yoia says he has made a conscious effort to make out-of-pocket costs as low as possible during his 13 years at Quinnipiac, and other colleges across the nation will soon look for creative solutions for financial aid issues as well.

“At what point does it end? No matter what a student gets, because they’re having to make payments or borrow loans, it could always be more,” Yoia said.

Post-graduate debt numbers suggest it is more for other institutions. According to a New York Times article from May, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that nationwide, the average college debt in 2011 was $23,300.

Quinnipiac students’ current average indebtedness at graduation exceeds this amount at $39,500, according to College Board.

Yoia says Quinnipiac operates with a “need-blind” admissions process, in which students are accepted solely on their merits. This is unlike other “need-aware” schools that tailor their admissions process to avoid admitting a greater number of students with financial needs than they can afford to fund, resulting in less debt for students and more promising statistics.

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