Number of students in serious financial need on the rise, says expert

At the recent Council of Independent Colleges conference in Florida, Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said that the number of college students in serious need of financial assistance is on the rise, reports The Washington Post.

Wegenke used examples from schools throughout Wisconsin to illustrate his point. The number of students whose expected family contributions to pay for college was little or nothing rose from 42,641 students in the 2008-2009 academic year to more than 65,800 in 2009-2010. Wegenke believes this situation mirrors trends observed across the country.

"The opportunity for this country to meet the goal to return to first place in educational attainment and to be competitive in the ‘knowledge economy’ will be compromised if we have a ‘lost generation’ who – from lack of resources, not lack of ability – are denied opportunity," Wegenke told the newspaper.

Wegenke's observations are supported by other reports. According to the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, some schools have reported an increase in the number of students applying for Free Application for Federal Student Aid by as much as 116 percent in the past year.

Just because more students are applying for financial aid doesn't mean you should be put off when you're filling out college applications. Make sure to research financial aid and scholarships thoroughly when you're doing a college search.

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