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Monday, June 17, 2024

Obama’s new federal aid distribution formula set for 2015

President Barack Obama’s new rating formula for college federal aid distribution is set to be released in time for 2015. 

After a Federal Advisory Committee hearing Friday, questions were raised about whether the formula would impact colleges’ access to federal aid. 

Faculty and students suggest UF would benefit from these rankings by creating more financial opportunities and diversity on campus.

“It’s hard to predict how they would affect the upcoming year, but in general, UF already does very well in ratings like these,” said UF spokesman Steve Orlando. “Anything that could potentially bring in students from even more diverse backgrounds is always a benefit to the university.”

Obama’s ratings system will examine colleges based on access, affordability and outcomes in order to distribute federal aid for low-income and first-generation students.

The plan will also tie financial aid to college performance, starting with publishing the new college ratings before the 2015 school year and challenging states to fund public colleges based on performance, as well as holding students and colleges receiving student aid responsible for making progress toward a degree, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“I think it’s a good idea, even though it might be hard to implement,” said Jamilea Van Hemel, a 20-year-old UF animal biology junior. “I think that because it would be hard to generalize between colleges in different social environments and rich and poor cities.”

During the hearing, researchers and administrators questioned the plan’s issues.

Some concerns included that the ratings may become an alternative to commercial rankings, colleges could try to get rid of possible at-risk students in order to improve its rating and the information and data provided might be flawed.

Orlando said the new formula would not affect UF financially.

The rating system would not only give more attention to the university but also help current students with their academic finances.

“I think this would benefit me because my family is in the middle class,” said Lauren Klitz, a 20-year-old UF industrial and systems engineering junior. “So any financial aid I have received came from scholarships I applied for and Bright Futures, which is based on academics.”

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[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 9/24/2014]

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