Adding up student debt

By Megan Viste

Cal Poly Pomona ranked high on a list of universities for low student loan debt, according to a recent report from LendEDU, an independent marketplace for student loans and student loan refinancing.

The report considered data for student loan debt collected from 13,000 public and private colleges across the country.

CPP ranked No. 162 on the list for public and private colleges and No. 82 for public colleges only.

With six out of every 10 college students nationwide graduating with student debt, according to LendEDU, the growing amount of loan debt is something students consider when selecting a university to attend, as did Ari Bezjian, a first-year finance, real estate and law student.

“I chose CPP because I knew it provided a very good education for me at an affordable cost,” said Bezjian. “I think it is very important to be debt free or as close to debt free as possible before graduating. The fact that our school ranks as one of the best for low student debt is just awesome.”

According to the California State University Chancellor’s Office concerning the 2015-16 academic year, undergraduate student loan borrowing was at an all-time high, with students graduating with an average of $25,000 in student loan debt.

According to Diana Minor, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, the average student loan debt for CPP graduates was around $22,000, which is 12 percent lower than the overall average.

“During the 2015-2016 academic year, we disbursed $197 million in support of student in grants, loans, work study and scholarships,” said Minor via email correspondence.

According to the office of Institutional Research and Academic Resources, moving forward in the 2016-17 academic year, the university is estimated to award more than $200 million in financial aid, with more than $141 million of that money being awarded in scholarships and grants alone.

That means that more than 70 percent of the funds going toward financial aid is money that students will not have to pay back and will help relieve student loan debt.

Students, such as first-year mathematics student Osvaldo Ariscorreta, can find relief in this fact.

“It’s amazing knowing that Cal Poly Pomona is doing its best to keep our student debt as low as possible,” said Ariscorreta. “That is a great load taken off our shoulders.”

According to Minor, about 78 percent of CPP students receive some form of financial aid.

Students can begin the process to receive financial aid by, first, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

If a student wishes to apply for state, as well as federal, financial aid, the online application is due March 2 for the 2017-18 academic year.

For students seeking financial aid for the 2016-17 academic year, the free application is still available until June 30.

Minor also suggests visiting the website for the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for further information regarding grants and scholarships offered by departments, clubs, organizations and study abroad programs.

If students wish to speak to someone in person for further information, the office is open during regular business hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Common financial aid questions can also be answered through the frequently asked questions interface, Ask Billy, on the CPP website.

“Our students and our campus are very conscious of the amount of debt our students accumulate as our goal is the promote student success,” said Minor. “Financial planning while in school is a big part of student success.”

Financial Aid office

Eviana Vergara / The Poly Post

Financial Aid office

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