Financial literacy aids students in college

In 2010, more than 85 percent of UNI students were receiving some sort of financial aid to pay for their education. With the costs of higher public education debated from the living room to the oval office, it's increasingly important for each student to understand their financial expectations.

TC in McLeod
UNI's "Live Like a Student" courses cover everything from budgeting and having financial goals to understanding how actions today will affect a student's financial future.

The UNI Office of Student Financial Aid educates students and families about all aspects of financial aid – from loans to scholarships to grants. Timothy Bakula, associate director of financial aid, said their office is committed to making UNI accessible and affordable for students.

"Based on the economic climate during the last several years, students and their families are more cognizant than ever concerning the cost of college and their outcomes," noted Bakula. "Enhancing the educational materials and customer service of our office has been paramount in creating a welcoming environment where families are confident their questions can be answered."

The office has become a leader in financial literacy, creating different initiatives to educate students about fiscal responsibility including the "Live Like a Student" courses, which emphasize the importance of living within one's means, budgeting, having financial goals and understanding how actions taken today will affect a person's financial future.

"You'll also see it's our vision to offer seamless delivery of financial aid services, allowing students to conduct financial aid activities online," stated Joyce Morrow, director of financial aid.

Within the past year, UNI has actually seen its average student loan indebtedness decrease by 7.6 percent. This decrease can be contributed to initiatives like the "Live Like a Student" campaign, loan counseling through the Office of Student Financial Aid and an increase in students taking advantage of the TEACH Grant Program.

The TEACH Grant Program is designed for students planning to teach in a high-need field, and provides up to $4,000 for eligible UNI undergraduates. UNI is currently the number one university in administering the grant. In the last academic year, UNI had 643 grant recipients, totaling $2.4 million in grants.

"I would encourage students to continue to get involved in their own financial aid process," said Bakula. "I would also encourage both students and their parents to explore all options for financing a college education before turning to borrowing."

There are many options for financing a college education, including scholarships, grants and financial aid. Through strong financial aid programs, UNI continues to ensure that students understand their own financial need and expectations.