Financial aid packages tailored to students

As course schedules are filling for next semester, financial aid is always something on the minds of students this time of year.

With tuition and room and board increases, most students want as much financial aid as possible.

For 2011-12, 28 percent of Butler University’s expense budget was dedicated to financial aid, totaling $47,672,800. The total amount of financial aid distributed was $102,928,535, which includes Butler funds, guaranteed student loans, state and federal aid such as the Pell Grant, and other outside awards.

“We are the largest source of aid for students that enroll here, by a significant amount,” Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management, said. “Unlike a state institution, our revenues come from our students, so we are able to distribute it as we need.”

Eighty-seven percent of Butler University’s revenue comes from tuition and room and board—all student-paid fees.

Vice President for Finance Bruce Arick said that financial aid comes from two separate “buckets” of funding: university expense, or unrestricted aid, and endowed funds.

He said a financial aid package starts with state and federal aid and then adds endowed and unrestricted aid to fill it up based on the student’s merit- and need-based circumstances.

“They’re dipping into both of the buckets to come up with the best financial scholarship awards that they can for each individual student,” Arick said. “The packages end up being almost customized to the student.”

Of all students at Butler, Weede said about 91 percent receive some sort of financial aid.

“We didn’t set out to have it that way, but when you work in a system that is tailored to each individual family’s circumstances and each individual student’s circumstances, each package is very much tailored to the individual that is enrolling,” he said.

While Arick estimated the average student aid package to be between $10,000 and $12,000, Weede said he doesn’t think about it like that.

“We have 4,000 individual financial aid packages,” he said. “When you talk about an average package, it’s meaningless because no one is average. We custom-build a financial aid package based on (a student’s) circumstances.”

Weede said he often hears from students at this time of year who have been offered more money from another school but want to come to Butler if the university can match the aid.

“Our answer is typically, ‘Good luck at that school,’” Weede said, “because we’re trying to create a match rather than buying people.”

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