Section: News

FAFSA applications increase nearly 400%

By Madeleine Thompson

Kenyon’s Office of Financial Aid has seen significant increases in applications for both institutional and federal financial aid this year. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE applications, which request funding directly from Kenyon, have gone up 55 percent, and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filings, which go through the federal government, have increased 389 percent. “We’re up significantly in both, but the FAFSA especially is through the roof,” Director of Financial Aid Craig Daugherty said.

Last year, 1,732 students submitted PROFILE applications and 651 filled out FAFSA applications. This year, those numbers went up to 2,682 and 2,326, respectively. The increase in PROFILE applications is proportional to the 61 percent rise in applications.

As for explanations for the huge jump, it is too early to know exactly what to attribute the inflated numbers. “I don’t know why this is happening … because if we look at the PROFILE at this time last year, it seems like same number of kids is interested,” Jennifer Delahunty, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, said. “But something’s happening — more and more people are applying [for aid] than originally indicated they would be.”

Daugherty cited earlier filings and efforts by the Office of Admissions to get the word out about the importance of the Feb. 15 deadline. “I think we have really tried … to reinforce the deadlines,” Daugherty said. “We’ve done a out some reminders and those sorts of things. We’ve tried to help families get their applications in on time because unfortunately, if they apply late, many times the funding is gone.”

While financial aid is not first-come, first-served, the earlier a family applies, the better. Kenyon’s limited financial aid budget mandates that no additional aid money can be distributed once the limit has been reached. However, the sudden jump in financial aid applications will not change the College’s policy, which states that every family who applies before the deadline will be considered for aid. Those who apply after Feb. 15 will be considered depending on the availability of aid.

“We have a limited budget for financial aid at Kenyon, so when those dollars are gone, unfortunately there’s not a lot we can do beyond that,” Daugherty said. “[But] we’re still meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need. We haven’t changed any of our philosophies there.”

In fact, at last year’s winter meeting, the Board of Trustees added $400,000 to Kenyon’s financial aid budget. “We perceived that with the changing demographic in this country, in order to maintain our quality and access, we were going to need additional funding,” Delahunty said.

An increase in applications does not imply more aid will be awarded, however.

In addition, Delahunty worried prospective students may start to indicate on their application that they do not need financial aid, but will decide later to apply. “We are need aware in our admissions selection, [so] you can see where [prospective students] might try to game the system a little bit,” Delahunty said. “It’s not banner headline stuff.”

Delahunty does not anticipate Kenyon will need to echo other schools and tell prospective students they will not process financial aid applications unless the student is upfront about his or her need on the application. “If it’s a true trend, not a suspected trend, we’ll have to look at our policy,” she said.

Until administrators have more data to consider, they will not make any changes to the financial aid process at Kenyon.



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