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"College Is Possible"

by Bobby K. Marks
President, Sam Houston State University

Last fall, Sam Houston State University joined with approximately 1,200 other colleges and universities and some 20 higher education associations in the Coalition of America's Colleges and Universities.The purpose of this coalition, led by the American Council on Education, is a national education campaign. The campaign, called "College is Possible," is an effort to communicate to interested publics that funds of one type or another are usually available for students who desire to attend college but do not have the immediate financial resources to do so.

Sending a child to college is, indeed, expensive. The extent of the expense varies widely between community colleges, senior universities, and private universities. But regardless of the type of school, the cost of attending college usually represents a major investment for the parents and/or the students, themselves.

There are many variables that have increased the cost of attending college. These include, but certainly are not limited to, the following: the astronomical increase in the cost of books and periodicals for libraries and the exponential growth of scientific knowledge which constantly requires updating of library holdings; the cost of technological applications for the delivery of instructional programs and the required technology for simply processing information; state decisions in recent years to pass along a larger proportion of the total cost of attending college to the students; and the cost of complying with government regulations of many types. These only scratch the surface, but for many reasons, the cost of attending college has increased in recent years.

The good news, though, is that funds are usually available to those who need them. Further, most universities are well equipped to assist students in searching for available funding sources. Administrators are well aware of the financial burden which attending college represents to most families, and they are sensitive to those needs. Student financial aid offices are usually staffed by professionals who are well trained to assist students. Assisting students is what they do professionally, and they are typically dedicated to providing that service.

Students and families should keep in mind, however, that these staff members cannot overcome faulty information or deviate from state and federal guidelines. If the information furnished by students is faulty or incomplete, the entire process will be flawed and will grind into slow motion or stop. The student financial aid office on any campus is established to facilitate students' requests for financial assistance of one type or another, and they are dedicated to doing that. But the students play a major role in how effective that assistance can be.

The 76th session of the Texas Legislature greatly enhanced the opportunities for students needing financial assistance by establishing the Texas Excellence Access and Success Grant Program. This very important piece of legislation is a scholarship program which the state of Texas funded with $100 million to benefit university students in Texas. It adds greatly to programs already in place for student financial assistance.

In summary, students who aspire to attend college but feel that it is beyond their financial grasp, should immediately contact the student financial aid office of the college or university they wish to attend. If they have not chosen a college or university, they can contact the "College is Possible" web site at http://www.CollegeIsPossible.org or the U.S. Department of Education's special toll-free number (1-800-433-3243).

Many programs exist at both the state and federal levels to provide financial assistance to qualified students. Indeed, "College is Possible," and students should not hesitate to seek information about financial assistance to help attain their goal of a college degree.

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
July 1, 1999
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