The number of Missourians applying for student loans is showing a significant increase.
Anyone applying for help paying college tuition must fill out a FASFA form — free application for federal student aid.
Leroy Wade with the Department of Higher Education says when comparing the first quarter of this year to last year, Missouri has seen an overall increase of about 17.4 percent.
That percentage includes all students. But in breaking down the numbers further, the report shows that for independent students (those not under the financial support of their parents), which is it appears the economic situation to hit the hardest, the increase is about 23.1 percent.
Nationwide, the numbers increase. Missouri lags behind the national average, which shows a 20.8 percent increase in total FAFSAs filed and a 27.3 percent increase in filing by independent students.
Wade says the increase could indicate that more current students are seeking financial aid, that education officials’ efforts to make the application process easier are paying off, or that economic factors are increasing enrollment. Institutions are reporting higher enrollment rates, Wade says, and some of those enrolling for college are the same people who have lost their jobs due to lay-offs.
The U.S. Department of Education issued the following numbers for the first quarter of the 2009-10 academic year:
Missouri: 72,614 Dependent Students; 58,177 Independent Students (130,791 Total)
Nationally: 3,723,086 Dependent Students; 2,862,921 Independent (6,586,007 Total)
First quarter 2008-09 academic year –
Missouri: 64,127 Dependent Students; 47,250 Independent Students (111,377 Total)
Nationally: 3,201,306 Dependent; 2,248,468 Independent (5,449,774 Total)