While the economic situation has raised both anxiety levels and the number of federal financial aid applications nationwide, Penn has not yet seen many effects, officials said.
Although director of student financial aid Bill Schilling and Dean of Admissions Eric Furda sent out a joint letter to prospective Penn applicants last month addressing economic concerns, Schilling said that so far, his office has not seen any significant rise in concern from students about aid amounts.
"We're obviously waiting to see what happens with the economy and preparing to deal with an increase in the number of requests for aid, if it happens," he added.
Schilling said his office has been working with the budget office to model how to fund potential increases, and together they have "identified funding which would enable us to address that kind of situation."
For instance, after the last tech boom ended, the office dealt with a 5-percent rise in the number of aided students.
Furda added in an e-mail that the Admissions Office has not seen a rise in calls from parents because of financial concerns. And while it's too early to see if the economy has an impact on the number of applicants, Furda emphasized that his office is focused on the yield.
Administrators also reaffirmed their commitment to a no-loan financial-aid policy in the next school year - a point Schilling said they will continue to emphasize to both prospective and enrolled students as they fill out financial-aid material.
Nationally, though, "it is very much the assumption that the next incoming class is going to be significantly 'needier'" than the last few, Barmak Nassirian, spokesman for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers said.
Already, 16 percent more students have filled out a FAFSA in the first half of 2008 than in previous years.
Mark Kantrowitz, director of advanced projects for the scholarship Web site Fastweb.com, said this is because "families are [becoming] more concerned about how they're going to pay for college."
Nassirian added that in times of recession or economic hardship, colleges see more applicants. This could lead to more financial strain, particularly at public schools and community colleges. Despite the costly price tag, colleges and universities of Penn's calibre typically won't see a decrease in the number or quality of applicants.
At these institutions, the fact is "even if you lost half your applicants, you would still be an extraordinarily competitive place to get into, and the people with means are still qualified to get in," Nassirian said.Comments powered by Disqus
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