UMass Amherst Alumni, Staff, Students Focus on Future of Financial Aid and Job Security

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Two recent polls conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association reveal concerns of students and staff.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association

I am very concerned for what's going on in our country and state economically

A poll recently taken by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association indicates that current financial turmoil in the economy has some students worried about the future of financial aid, and some faculty and staff concerned about possible layoffs. Alumni respondents who had received financial aid to attend college also weighed-in with their thoughts.

Student respondents were evenly divided as to whether current instability on Wall Street will make it difficult to acquire needed loans to continue their university studies. Nathaniel Goodhue, class of 2011, who does not rely on financial aid to attend college, said, "While changes in accessibility to financial aid would not impact me, I have many friends who rely on it... I expect they'll be hard-pressed to get a loan in the future."

"I am very concerned for what's going on in our country and state economically," added Elisha Adey, class of 2010. "I am depending on financial aid and student loans to pay for my undergraduate coursework, and will also need those resources for graduate school."

Her concern is validated by the results of a poll taken of alumni in the first week of October. Two-thirds of UMass Amherst alumni respondents had benefited by receiving financial aid that enabled them to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Over sixty-five percent (65%) said a college education would have been totally out of their reach had they not been able to get financial aid to attend.

When asked if they felt the current economic situation would make it more difficult - or impossible - for individuals to attend college in the future, forty-three percent (43%) said they think it will be totally beyond the reach of people who might attend otherwise. However, fifty-five percent (55%) said they think it will be more difficult for prospective UMass Amherst students to acquire financial aid - but that they would find a way to pay for it, if they really wanted to attend. Only three percent (3%) said they don't think the current financial situation and resulting fallout will make any difference with regard to financial aid.

As an interesting side note, respondents who had received financial aid to attend college were queried as to how long it had taken them to pay back their financial aid loans. Thirty-nine percent (39%) said it had or would take them only one to five years to pay them off; thirty-one percent (31%) said that it had or would take them six to ten years to pay them off; four percent (4%) said it had or would take them eleven to fifteen years to pay them off; and twenty-six percent (26%) said it had or would take them sixteen years or longer to pay off their financial aid loans.

More than ninety percent (90%) of administrative staff at the university who were polled stated their concern that the current financial situation would affect the current state budget and result in job layoffs at the university. "While I'm not worried for my own job, I am concerned for colleagues around campus," said Sue Boutin, who works for the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. "Inevitably, there will be scrutiny of administrative positions as the university seeks to reduce expenses via payroll." Faculty stated their concerns as well: by two-to-one, they felt the current financial situation in the state threatens their job security.

Prior to the bill being passed that was intended to turn things around economically for the country as a whole, half of students, faculty and staff that were polled felt it was either a good idea or a bad idea, while half were undecided. Indications are that the country in general is still undecided, now that the bill has been passed. And how it will affect student financial aid, and staff and faculty positions at this university are yet to be seen.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association represents over 215,000 around the globe, and provides programs and services to enlighten, strengthen and develop students, faculty, staff and alumni. For more information, go to http://umassalumni.com/.

Media Contact:
Norma Heim
413-577-0312
njheim@admin.umass.edu

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