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MU extends financial aid options for winter term

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 11:12

Miami University’s first winter term offers new opportunities for classes and study abroad experiences, but these opportunities come at a price. In order to alleviate the financial strain on some students, the Office of the Provost has made institutionally-budgeted money available to assist students with financial need.

Director of Student Financial Assistance Brent Shock said the level of financial need is based on student responses on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The financial aspect of winter term can be daunting to some students, according to Shock.

“The financial pieces could be a challenge,” Shock said. “Under federal guidelines, federal, university and state aid is apportioned for the fall and spring semesters and there are maximums students can receive per year, so when you add a winter term, that may mean that there’s not additional aid available to students.”

But Miami is making some extra support available, Shock said.

“We are awarding some additional aid to students who have financial need,” Shock said. “It’s simply based on their level of need.”

According to Shock, the university has recently started identifying these students and informing them of the additional aid they will receive.

“We’re looking at students who have already enrolled in winter term, looking at the level of financial need and notifying via e-mail,” Shock said. “There’s no application. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible. We want to make sure students know about that aid before the billing cycle.”

According to Shock, the total level of financial aid Miami will give is not yet known because winter term enrollment continues to fluctuate.

David Creamer, the vice president for finance and business services, said the implementation of Miami’s winter term achieves both financial and holistic goals for the university.

“The goals have been both financial and offering more opportunities for students,” Creamer said. “When we built the budget, we didn’t really build much expectation of revenue beyond what it would take to cover the costs of the program.”

Creamer said the additional revenue Miami receives will be small compared to regular fall and spring academic terms.

“Institutions across the nation are looking for more flexibility rather than the rigid academic term,” Creamer said. “Students are seeing if options work for them.”

Creamer said the university recognizes student concern over the affordability of winter term. However, winter term could lower the total cost of education in the long run for certain students, according to Creamer.

“One of the ways we’ve looked at this over multiple years [is] students taking advantage of even one course during that time may be able to shave a semester off until they graduate depending on how you use the summer term [and] how you use the winter term,” Creamer said. “In the end, you could actually lower cost.”

Kriss Cassano works in the Office of the Bursar. She said costs for courses offered during winter term are the same as courses offered during fall and spring semesters, and total cost is even slightly lower.

During the regular school year, fees are divided into instructional and general components. During the winter term, one comprehensive fee is paid. The comprehensive fee includes both instructional and general components, but the general fee portion is lower, according to Cassano.

“Students pay a cost per credit hour and that’s the same,” Cassano said. “There isn’t any additional cost. During the school year, students pay the metro and technology [fees]. None of that will be charged during the winter, so actually costs are lower.”

Junior Allison Gnaegy is one student who chose to partake in a program offered during the winter term. According to Gnaegy, cost was a major factor in deciding to enroll in a winter term program, especially since she pays for college herself.

However, she ultimately chose to confirm her acceptance into the NYC Media program offered through the Journalism Program Department.

“I was definitely worried about the cost,” Gnaegy said. “My program fee aside from tuition is $635.”

Gnaegy said the program allows students to have one-on-one interviews with journalists in various media outlets such as TV networks and newspapers.

“The opportunity outweighed the cost for me,” Gnaegy said. “I pay for college myself, so I’ll be expanding my loans.”

Miami responded to frequently asked questions about winter term here.

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