Budget Mess Could Mean Less Money for Students

August 22, 2008 9:19:23 PM PDT
A weak economy and a state budget two months overdue-- two reasons some college students are worried they won't have the money they need to pay for the fall semester. But Fresno state says there's no reason to worry.Room 296 was a popular place Friday ... as a record number of Fresno state students applied for financial aid. So far, close to 400 more than last year.

"What I don't know, until the end of the year, is whether it's representative of an overall increase or just having students file early," says financial aid director Maria Hernandez.

... Or possibly the result of record high enrollment.

Bernie Vinovrski, associate director of enrollment services says, "We have 200 more freshman than last year. 28-hundred, record number. The residence hall filled to capacity and we just greeted 200 new international students, so there is a lot to be excited about."

Students should also be excited-- and relieved to know that despite the budget delay in Sacramento-- their Cal-Grant checks are in the mail.

"The campus has opted to cover state grants and then get reimbursed once the budget is signed," says Hernandez.

With 58% of students receiving financial aid-- there was concern among some students that the money promised would not come...

Freshman Joshua Lewis drove in with his mother from Victorville-- to make sure everything was in order.

Rhonda Holland, "We're pretty much covered and that's a positive thing. It's just a matter of when is the check coming so that we can start buying the books ... living ... everything, so." Joshua Lewis: "I don't have to worry about nothing really-- just keeping my grades up."

The university has already dispersed $39-million of financial aid to 9-thousand students. The average award is between 10 and 14-thousand dollars.

Student Benny Thongsoane is getting his money next week. "Without the financial help, I would not have been able to afford it, so it's all good-- it's all groovy."

Students can apply for financial aid throughout the school year ... But the deadline for "first-time" Cal-Grant applicants is March 2nd.

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