The financial aid office was busier than ever at the beginning of this year as freshmen waited to talk to someone about their loans and financial aid packages. Although it costs $29,000 to attend Saint Leo, which is low compared to the cost of other private universities that can cost as as high as $50,000, it is becoming harder for students to get financial aid.
Some students were already moved in when they found out that their financial aid did not go through, so they had to move out. Bright Futures, a state wide scholarship program for students who attended high school in Florida, did not give out funds until after the add/drop period; therefore, many students were clueless as to how much they would get for the first few weeks. The same happened with many other scholarships. Some students even ended up having to take out more loans after finding that they did not get as much as they were expecting from financial aid and scholarships.
The first week, Saint Leo’s Week of Welcome, is a time when everyone begins meeting each other, getting used to living on campus, and learning to be a Saint Leo Lion. It must be tough to get a glimpse of that and then be refused the opportunity to continue. For the students who decide to stay for the semester or year, the blow might be harder because they get to stay and make great friends for only a short while. They know they’ll have to leave their friends and start over somewhere else after winter break or after summer.
I have heard of a student who lived on campus, for example, and had to take out $13,000 in loans in order to attend. Because of her parents’ credit score, it was difficult for her to find loans, and the ones she did find had unfavorable payment terms and interest rates. It is clear that the system is broken since she may not be able to return for the next academic year due to this.
Most of these students will either go to a community college or transfer to a public university that is cheaper. But whether or not they are able to continue their education at Saint Leo, it is clear that their drive to move forward will take them far.