By Daniel Montaño, Staff Reporter | Photos By Daniel Montaño
CNM’s new financial aid policies have students’ best interests at heart, but the students’ themselves have had mixed reactions to the new loan revisions.
The Chronicle asked students receiving financial aid how these changes will affect their student loans.
The new policies, which will begin in the fall 2013 semester, will reduce the maximum amount of money that students can take out in loans per year by $2000, and increase the yearly award for work-study employees by $1500, Joseph Ryan, administrative director of Financial Aid, said.
The policies have been put in place in order to reduce the chance that students will default on student loans after they graduate by lowering students’ overall debt, Ryan said.
Jeanie Castillo, Surgical Technology major Chronicle: How is the change in Financial Aid’s policy going to affect you? “I have two kids and having the loans helps me with my children, because in my program they expect you not to work. They actually tell you during intro; ‘that’s why you have the loans’. “They tell you to get loans to help pull you through the term so you can concentrate on the program. Not having the full loans only gives you a certain amount of money that can’t cover rent and electricity and everyday costs.” Chronicle: Do you think the increase in work study will help students cover those everyday costs? “I don’t think so because once you are in a program or even taking classes full time you’re not going to have time to do that work-study. “I mean, in the Surgical Tech program we’ll have clinics all week long and we’re not going to have time to do work-study after class. I mean maybe for an hour but that’s not going to come close to covering what we would get from loans. So, basically, students are screwed.”
Corinne Kilgore, Pre-Health Sciences major Chronicle: What’s your reaction to the changes in Financial Aid’s policies? “I have to say that for me personally, I kind of like it. “I do think that we’re in a dangerous situation where people are taking out all these loans and then they get out into the real world and, with the way the economy is, they can’t find a job. Then they have to immediately start paying back all these loans and can’t. “So I can see the reasoning as to why they want to raise the work-study and lower the loans but on the other hand, work-study is only $8.50 an hour and you can only do 20 hours a week, or even now with 30 hours during the summer, people aren’t going to be able to pay their bills on that. “If they don’t have the loans to back them up then they may be forced to drop out of school to get a full time job.” “I can see both sides of it I guess because I’m a little unbiased. I don’t do work study or loans. I’m one of the lucky ones that have been able to get by with just my Pell grant.”
Jack Pettigrew, Biology major Chronicle: How is the change in Financial Aid’s policy going to affect you? “I don’t think the lower loans will affect me personally, but I definitely think it will affect some of the students here. “My girlfriend for example, she pays rent on her own apartment and her rent is kind of expensive because she pays it all in advance and now I don’t think she’ll be able to take out a loan big enough in order to pay her rent. So she might struggle a little bit” Chronicle: How do you think this might affect students in general? “I think if people need those loans to pay their bills they will probably drop out, only because the work-study pays minimum wage. So they probably won’t be able to pay for what they need.”
Jesse Hawthorne, Welding major Chronicle: What’s your reaction to the changes in Financial Aid’s policies? “It’s going to affect me greatly because I don’t have work-study. I have to pull out those loans and I have a job. I don’t have work-study because every time I look into it, they’re all filled up; there are hardly any jobs available. “So that’ll affect me greatly. I rely on that; I only have about another year left, but because this is starting in the fall semester it’s going to affect me greatly. I’m going to have to find another job or something. “Even if you’re aloud $1500 more through work-study but they’re taking $2000 off of loans, that’s a $500 dollar difference. When you’re a broke-ass college kid like myself it’s hard enough as it is. “If they’re cutting loans by $2000 dollars, I mean that’s four months of rent right there that I usually pay out when I get those loans. That’s essentially what that’ll be for me.” Chronicle: In the long run do you think this will help you stay out of debt and reduce your chances of defaulting on a loan? “Well, if I were to stay in school and continue on to UNM afterwards it could potentially help me. But the fact of the matter is that here (at CNM) we are taking out such a small amount anyway because it’s our first couple of years. “I’m going to be about $20,000 in debt, but when I leave here I’m going to be working and making more than enough money to pay that off. This is not really going to help me out. It’ll actually hurt me because it’ll be harder for me to stay in school. “If they make it easier for us to stay in school we can then get a better job and pay them back easier. If it’s harder for us to stay in school, how are we going to pay back those loans as easily? It doesn’t make sense, at least not to me.”
Magen Wells, Integrated Studies major, transferring to UNM for nursing Chronicle: How is the change in Financial Aid’s policy going to affect you? “Well I graduated and I’m going to UNM in the fall but I think it’s going to really affect the single parents who are trying really hard to make something of themselves. Being a single mother going back to school was the one thing that I could do, that I knew I needed to do, because I was left with nothing. “Being in school has done a lot of things for me. It’s kept me afloat financially, it’s been able to progress me towards my big goal and I really think it’s going to affect single moms, single dads and lower class citizens who are trying to do better. Chronicle: Was it the student loans themselves that actually enabled you to go to school? “Yes, because if the full student loans weren’t available to me I wouldn’t have been able to go to class, because I would have had to work. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You’re either going to school, getting student loan money to keep you afloat, or you’re working. “It’s one or the other because then something will fail if you’re going to school and trying to work at the same time. There’s always one that you’re weaker at that catches up to you and you struggle with.