The Office of Financial Aid disbursed a record-setting $127 million in financial aid to students this semester, according to an announcement on the department’s Twitter.
Sarah Baumhoff, the associate director of student financial aid, said this spike in student funds is no surprise to her. In her five years of working in financial aid, she said there has been a $10 million increase each fall semester.
“Every year that I have been here, it’s gone up every fall,” Baumhoff said.
Within two weeks of the tweet being sent out, the number of student funds has increased to $134 million. According to the associate director, 57 percent of the funding — or about $76 million — has been student loan funds. The other 43 percent — or about $57 million — is scholarships and grants.
“The majority of the funds are either Pell Grant, HOPE scholarship or Zell Miller scholarship,” Baumhoff said. “So that statement is a big chunk of student loans.”
Baumhoff believes that in the future, financial aid will continue to skyrocket due to the increase in student enrollment at KSU.
However, the Office of Student Financial Aid has some concerns about the high number of loans being handed back. When students become star-struck with the huge amount they get back in refunds, they tend to forget they have to pay the money back later.
The state of Georgia has one the highest rates of student loan debt in the United States, with more than 1 million students in Georgia averaging about $30,000 in student loan debt. In a previous study, Wallet-Hub ranked Georgia 12th out of the 50 states for student loan debt.
The Office of Student Financial Aid is aware of this, but financial aid officials are working with students to help them recognize, as one official said, that “a big refund now will result in a big payment later if not used wisely.”