Kansas Students, Universities Concerned About Fiscal Cliff Impact

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

“Devastaing” is the word a K-State dean is using to describe the impact a fiscal cliff plunge will have on Kansas college students.

Parents and students alike need to prepare for the possibility of less student aid next year, while universities are also worried about losing vital research grants.

Wichita State University students, like seniors Cory Deeds-Rookstool and James Allen, are foremost concerned about this week’s semester finals. But they’re also wondering how the fiscal cliff debate in Washington DC might impact student loan costs.

"And I'm really worried that if they increase the interest rate on loans, what impact is that going to have on me in the future?" Rookstool said.

Low rates on such student loans as Stafford loans are locked until next June, but there’s no guarantee after that. Fallout from going over the so-called fiscal cliff will be felt by all Kansas campuses, said K-State Dean of Students Pat Bosco.

"No question it will have a devastating effect on students, not only at K-State, but students and parents thinking about post secondary education throughout the state of Kansas," Bosco said.

Bosco said students and families with the highest need will be the ones most impacted, like those with Pell grants.

"The Pell grants are issued to the students with the highest needs,” Bosco said. “And part of the education we're up against could severely change and limit the amount the students and families could qualify for."

Kansas University’s Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Tim Caboni, tells KAKE News their student’s loan cost could increase by $27 million. He said their campuses could lose $18 million in research funding.

Even some tax credits for college expenses could end this year.

"I'm comfortable with the fact that they know their job is on the line and if they don't pass anything they won't get their jobs back come reelection," WSU senior James Allen said.

K-State’s Bosco said the impact will not be felt by students returning in January necessarily, because their aid is based on the school year. But he says the greatest impact will be for the fall semester.

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