North Texas Daily

Merit-based and need-based student aid increases

Merit-based and need-based student aid increases

September 09
23:37 2015

Adalberto Toledo | Staff Writer

@adaltoledo29

Student aid throughout UNT System will see a 1.2 percent decrease based on the recently approved consolidated budget. But for students on the Denton campus, aid will increase by 14.7 percent after a 3.9 percent increase in net tuition for the 2016 fiscal year .

Financial assistance to UNT students comes from many sources, including scholarships, waivers and exemptions. The largest amount is from a portion of tuition dedicated for need-based financial aid, which has increased from $20.4 million to $23.4 million.

Associate Vice President for Budget and Analytics Beverly Cotton said merit-based aid also increased.

“I cannot guarantee on the individual student if they will see this increase.” Cotton said. “Maybe we have more students that receive it, maybe we have more merit-targeted aid. There are a multitude of factors.”

Cotton added that UNT has experienced a rise in students eligible for the Hazlewood Exemption, which accounts for more than $8 million in aid.

However, students are still frustrated by the rising cost of higher education.

“Every year it just gets more and more expensive and some people flunk out,” said  computer science junior Jesus Garcia.  “A lot of kids are not getting the opportunity to study because it’s so expensive.”

Brian Pack, helps a student answer a question about financial aid on September 8th, 2015.

Brian Pack helps a student answer financial aid questions at the financial aid office on Sept. 8. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

While student aid accounts for 11 percent of UNT’s budget, faculty salaries account for 55 percent.

“As we continue to try to attract the best and the brightest faculty for the students, we have to be competitive in what we offer faculty,” Cotton said. “We want to do the best thing possible for our staff.”

Other portions of the budget include funds dedicated to construction and maintenance.

“We get specific funding from the Legislature that says we use it for building and construction,” Cotton said. “It’s not out of the students’ pocket. It’s from our appropriations funds.”

But Cotton said some construction spending still has to be approved by the students because it involves higher fees used to fund the project.

Cotton said athletic facilities are self-funded. But the Board of Regents approved last week a $1 increase to the student athletics fee to fund the demolition of Fouts Field.

Housing is paid for by revenue from housing and tuition fees.

“The state wants us to keep our infrastructure and facilities updated,” Cotton said. “We are very careful that we get students’ approval, and that we’re using the right funds the right way.”

The Higher Education Assistance Fund appropriates funds to Texas universities that are to be used specifically for capital.

Regardless, the university has more needs than it does revenue.

“There are always more things to keep us growing and to look for the future,” Cotton said. “When the president had the budget hearing, the list of needs greatly surpassed what’s available. We have to very strategically prioritize how to use that money.”

The choices on how money is spent are the subject of much analysis when constructing the budget, Cotton said.

“It’s important and we realize the burden on the students,” Cotton said. “We want to keep growing as much as possible, but also keep very in tune with that affordability for students.”

Featured  Image: Vice president for budget and analytics Beverly Cotton answers questions about this year’s budget and looking to the 2016 fiscal year on Sept. 8. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

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