Financial Aid office gives advice on student debt

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Pacific University’s undergraduate class of 2017 left school carrying not only its bachelor’s degrees, but an average of $34,282 of student debt per graduate. The class of 2017 shouldered more than $4,000 more than the class of 2015, who graduated with an average of $30,018 in debt.

Pacific’s undergraduate indebtedness upon graduation was about $2,500 more than the average for the state of Oregon that year, but right on par with the national average. The only major institutions in Oregon with higher rates of average indebtedness for 2015 graduates were Portland State University and Linfield College.

Pacific helps students with the expensive reality of college by offering national, state and institutional financial aid of varying types and amounts. Of the 1597 undergraduates at Pacific who applied for financial aid based on their need for the 2016-17 school year, 1475 received some sort of aid and 1064 of them received aid based on their need in the form of scholarships and grants, which they did not have to work for or pay back.

The average financial aid package for the undergraduates that applied for aid in 2016-17 was $30,945 including need and non-need based scholarships and grants and work study but excluding loans. The total cost of attendance in 2016-17, including room and board was $53,740, meaning students payed an average of around $23,000 out of pocket and through loans for that year. In total, Pacific gave $38.5 million to its 201617 undergraduates in institutional scholarships and grants.

According to Pacific Director of Financial Aid, Leslie Limper, there are a few things students can do to help themselves out when filing for financial aid.

“It’s a first come first serve deadline, so to get the best financial aid package, you want to file the FAFSA before March 1,” Limper said.

Limper also stressed the importance of stating information as accurately as possible because “students often overestimate their income when filling out the FAFSA and end up receiving less than they would have had they gotten the accurate amount.”

Limper also advised that students apply for outside scholarships greater than $1,000, find a job with manageable hours and graduate in as close to four years as possible to avoid even greater debt accumulation. Students can always explain their special financial circumstances to the Financial Aid Office as well.

“It is important to get in touch with the Financial Aid Office if you have any concerns,” Limper said.

The Financial Aid Office will take into account your exceptional situation and make possible adjustments, “If a parent loses a job, for example, or is paying medical expenses or private tuition for a younger sibling because we want to do what we can to help you.”


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