College still a priority in spite of recession

By Holly Brantley - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Most Heartland universities say more students than ever will get an education this fall. The trend follows national findings that despite the recession, students and families are pooling their resources to pay for higher education.

According to a new study, parents are still paying for 45 percent of the cost, that's the majority.

Meanwhile, 25 percent of the cost is now covered by grants and scholarships. The next chunk, 24 percent is paid by the students who either borrow or use their own savings. About 6 percent of the cost is picked up by friends and relatives.

"It's difficult you have to work to pay for what's not covered," said Jarod Koenig, a Southeast Missouri State University student.

Students say despite the tough economic times, an education is even more of a must have tool to succeed in the future.

"The net cost of college is what families are concerned about," said Debbie Below of Enrollment and Admissions at Southeast Missouri State University. "They are concerned about grants, scholarships, loan options, and part time work. Sometimes it takes all four."

Below says families are paying for school by looking at the overall cost of a four year degree and choosing the best value. She says they are sticking with regional schools in their home state. At Southeast, their enrollment is higher than ever.

"We have seen an increase in enrollment from the Cape County area and all across Southeast Missouri," said Below.

She says families are looking for long term security, like sending kids to school in Missouri where schools haven't increased tuition in two years. Meanwhile, because fewer parents qualify for loans, more students can borrow more and in fact they are.

However, advisors encourage them to see if they quality for Pell Grants that don't have to be repaid.

"There's a 20 percent increase in the number of families who are able to get those," said Below.

Students said they put all monetary resources to work.

"It's about jobs and scholarship money," said Jennifer Koenig.

"I'm a grad student that pays for quite a bit but also gives me a stipend and that helps me pay for a lot of school," said Anna Burton.

"I'm about to start a part time job and I also work on campus," said Jarod Koenig. "Even 10 hours a week is a little bit of extra money."

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