Monday, March 2, 2009

Families say college won’t wait, despite the recession

By Velida Alemic
WENATCHEE — The new car can wait. So can cable television and other niceties. But college? That’s something students and families say they’re not willing to put on hold during a recession.
For Rodolfo Beltran, the only question was where, not if, he goes to college for his engineering degree.
"I definitely would have gone straight to a four-year college if it weren’t for the recession," he said. "I’m a little nervous."
He’s not alone. The 18-year-old Eastmont High School student worked on his Free Application for Federal Student Aid form in a crowded computer lab at Wenatchee Valley College Feb. 10. More than 90 people showed up for financial aid help that night.
Several students at the "College Goal" financial aid night said they were nervous about paying for college. As hardship and enrollment increase, competition for financial aid might be tight this year.
As of last month, about 9 percent more families have submitted FAFSA forms as the same time last year, said Jim Klacik, director of financial aid for the Higher Education Coordinating Board, a state agency that distributes all state and federal aid.
At Wenatchee Valley College, the increase in financial aid requests may be 20 percent more than last year, said financial aid director Kevin Berg.
"We’re definitely seeing a rise of individuals applying for financial aid because a parent lost a job or because the student can’t find work like they used to, but they’re still wanting to go to school," Berg said.

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