Board of Regents approves new $48 million financial aid package

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents approved a new financial aid package including scholarships, awards and grants for the 2015-16 school year.

The new budget includes $48 million in financial aid; this is an 8.9 percent increase over the 2014-15 financial aid budget.

“Our continued increases in financial aid at Eastern are a crucial element in keeping college affordable for our students and their families,” President Susan Martin said in a statement released by the university.

Of the $48 million, $33.5 million will go to undergraduate scholarships, awards and grants; $8.98 million for athletic grants-in-aid; $500,000 for federal and state matches; and more than $5 million in graduate student aid.

The majority of the funding increase is in two areas: undergraduate aid and athletic aid.

The increase in undergraduate aid reflects the increase in freshmen enrollment. This fall EMU had its third-largest class of entering freshmen in a decade, with 2,555 students.

Not only is the freshman class larger, but the freshmen are better prepared academically, which also contributed to the financial aid award increase. The new freshmen class averaged an ACT composite score of 22.5 and an average high school GPA of 3.28. The Honors College also enrolled a record number of students this year with approximately 500 freshmen.

The increase in athletic student aid is primarily for summer financial aid.

Eastern Michigan Athletic student aid is different from other Division I schools. For example, University of Michigan athletic department made $151 million last school year and only spent around $146 million on students, leaving the department with a $5 million surplus to give away in scholarships.

Eastern Michigan has allocated athletic aid the way undergraduate aid and graduate aid is allocated. The aid is coming from the university rather than from a departmental revenue surplus.

“Our financial aid commitment indicates the ongoing goal of the University and the Board of Regents to offer strong support to our students and helping them reach their academic and career goals,” Francine Parker said in a statement released by the university.

The increase in financial aid support follows the university’s efforts to help Michigan students afford a higher education.

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