Blagojevich on board to simplify financial aid application process

By Gus Bode

Rep. Rod Blagojevich, D, Chicago, candidate for governor, and Rham Emanuel, D, Chicago, candidate for 5th district congress, both want to make recieving college aid easier

Financial aid can be a godsend for some students, but to get it, they have to fill out lengthy applications.

Rep. Rod Blagojevich and Rahm Emanuel hope to change all that by simplifying the process. They have both called for an overhaul of the Pell Grant and Federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid applications.

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Lori Reimers, director of state relations for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, said that they already work each year with the federal government to simplify the FAFSA form, but ISAC is looking at some ideas with Blagojevich.

“I do think the FAFSA can be intimidating for families,” Reimers said. “It is a long form with a lot of questions.”

Reimer’s biggest fear is that the intimidating form may deter students from filling it out.

“Some students may decide that it’s not worth the time to fill it out,” Reimers said. “They need to realize that it is worth the time to at least fill it out.”

SIUC is no stranger to financial aid. In the school year 2000-2001, 75 percent of the University’s students received some type of aid; 16,447 undergraduate students received some type of aid and 4,286 graduate students did as well. Financial aid accounts for grants, scholarships, loans, work and waivers.

Susie McDougal, a sophomore in bioscience, is one of the recipients of financial aid. She said filling out the form wasn’t that bad.

“If they’re going to pay for you to go to school, then it’s worth the time,” McDougal said.

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McDougal is more worried about the tuition increase and how it will affect her ability to afford school than anything else.

“I don’t think my financial aid is going to cover my whole tuition, because [tuition] is up so much,” McDougal said. “It was already hard enough. Now I just have to work more.”

Emanuel was one of the Illinois politicians who spearheaded the plan. Joe Crisci, one of his campaign workers, said that the length of the applications and number of questions make for a difficult process and confused parents.

“Making higher education more accessible and easier to lower income families; that’s Emanuel’s main goal,” Crisci said.

Ann Acton, the associate director of the Financial Aid Office, said that a little sharpening of the system wouldn’t hurt.

“Education and simplification are always worthy goals,” Acton said. “A little more of that wouldn’t hurt, but we do make an effort to do that now.”

Reporter Arin Thompson can be reached at [email protected]

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