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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Assurance tightens criteria

The Arizona Assurance Scholars Program is checking students’ financial history to see if they will be able to receive their financial assistance all four years of college.

Starting with this year’s class, incoming students must file a form that details their family’s financial history, which will be reviewed in addition to a student’s Free Application of Federal Student Aid.

“We now really do conduct a complete need analysis to make sure we are putting in students who are truly low income,” said John Nametz, director of Student Financial Aid.

The new financial form is used to see if a student will qualify for Arizona Assurance funding, which is a combination of Pell Grants and university aid, while they are enrolled in college. In order to qualify for Arizona Assurance, an in-state student must have had a high school grade point average of at least 3.0, a family income that is less than $42,400 and be eligible for a Pell Grant.

“That is a criteria that has always been in place for Arizona Assurance,” said Arezu Corella, director of Arizona Assurance and assistant director of Academic Success and Achievement. “After that we don’t necessarily look at the family income anymore, but in order to continue you have to continue to be Pell Grant-eligible as a student.”

The federal Pell Grant gives money to low-income students to help with the cost of higher education. Pell Grant eligibility is determined when a student turns in a FAFSA. The maximum funding a student can receive is $5,550 and the lowest is $400. Most students who are eligible for Arizona Assurance typically receive the maximum amount of Pell Grant funding, according to Nametz.

Without the renewal of Pell Grant funding each school year, a student in Arizona Assurance may no longer be eligible for the financial benefits of the program.

“There has been some students where their income has changed significantly and they are no longer Pell Grant-eligible and they don’t receive the funding from Arizona Assurance,” Corella said. “But they can still have scholarships or potentially have loans and other ways of helping them pay for school.”

Though there have never been official counts of the number of students who are no longer Pell Grant-eligible in Arizona Assurance, Corella said it is a rarity. And with the new financial history forms every incoming Assurance student is required to fill out, Nametz said he doesn’t anticipate it happening any longer.

“We don’t see this a lot but it could happen,” Nametz said. “What we are doing now is that we are asking all Arizona Assurance students to fill out a further financial aid application to kind of guard against these things from happening.”

The new form is designed to detail a family’s financial history and to check for changes in their income. If a family makes less then $42,400 three years in a row, the student will be eligible for the Arizona Assurance program.

“We’re most interested in having the right people in the program to begin with and that we don’t pull out the rug from under them and that we track their persistence and success at the university,” Nametz said. “And so far, that is looking pretty good.”

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