UW Colleges students exercise money management strategies

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Banners displayed in the hallway show price differences between UW-Fox and other UW institutions. · photo by Vinnie Oestreich

UW Colleges students on average take less financial aid than other colleges and are ranked third in the UW System for Federal Pell Grant recipients as of the most recent aid year 2013-2014.

Students received some form of financial aid in 62 percent of cases, and out of this, only 41 percent received funds through loan programs. This amounts to 25 percent of students who actually took subsidized or unsubsidized loans.

“This [percentage] is below many other UW System institutions [and] is reflective of students at the UW Colleges opting not to borrow through student loans,” UW Colleges Director of Financial Aid William Trippett said.

The lower rates in financial aid acceptance are due in no small part to not only a lower tuition, but a student population more apt to attend from home, saving money.

“Additionally, given the proximity of UW Colleges campuses to their homes, many students forego housing costs [and] live at home while enrolled at the UW Colleges,” Trippett said.

For the students who do not take loans, part-time jobs may be required to pay for their education.

“I don’t get much financial aid, so jobs are really important in paying my tuition and teaching me how to handle money while I’m in college,” Trenton Knuppel, UW-Fox freshman, said.

“For those students who do work, the trick is balancing family and work commitments, and school,” Trippett said. “In the end, doing so is further preparation for life beyond school and is a necessity for many.”

Nonetheless, there are students who choose to take financial aid and focus entirely on their studies.

Sophomore Sam Folz anticipates that UW-Fox’s low tuition will mitigate post-college debt and will make attending full time more viable.

“By attending full time, I’ll also be going in debt after college, but I’ll have more credits out of the way faster, and by going to a two-year college, I won’t have as much debt as other people,” Folz said.

In all cases, acquisition of scholarships are important to students, especially those with financial need.

“Scholarships are important because some people don’t have enough loans, or parents, to help pay for their tuition, and need the extra help,” Knuppel said.

Otherwise, scholarships may solidify financial security, allowing students to spend more time on their studies.

“Odds are, [students with scholarships] will be more likely to attend full time, maxing out credit,” Folz said.

“The cost of tuition and fees at the UW Colleges is … $4,000–$5,000 cheaper than UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison and $2,500 less when compared to other UW institutions,” Trippett said.

The additional costs can be attributed to the services students are obligated to use at four-year campuses in addition to tuition. UW-Steven’s Point’s cheapest meal plan, for example, is equivalent to a monthly $308.25 grocery bill, or $1,233 per semester. Similarly, UW Oshkosh’s required underclassman dorms are valued at $3,758 per semester, or $835.11 per month for one shared room.

“That’s way too expensive,” UW-Fox Freshman Maria Lee said. “It should be more affordable to students, because they’re already contributing enough to the colleges.”

Students may choose to attend two-year colleges to avoid paying extra fees that come from the four-year college experience. Typically, by their junior year when they transfer, these financial requirements are waived.