Wright State approves additional financial help for students

Wright State University honored nearly 1,900 graduating students over the course of four spring commencement ceremonies on April 30 and May 1 in the Wright State Nutter Center. FILE
Wright State University honored nearly 1,900 graduating students over the course of four spring commencement ceremonies on April 30 and May 1 in the Wright State Nutter Center. FILE

Credit: Wright State University

Credit: Wright State University

Wright State University will be offering additional financial aid to students who qualify this fall.

On Friday, university trustees approved about $14.5 million in federal funds that will go to students who demonstrate financial need. It will be distributed similarly to earlier programs that Wright State undertook last year and earlier this year, said Kim Everhart, director of Wright State financial aid. She noted more people will likely be eligible for the funds this time around.

Trustees also approved the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, which includes $1,000 scholarships for first-year students who recently graduated from high school.

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The university said about 34% of recent high school graduates would be eligible for the funds.

“Included in this budget, we are focusing on providing students with additional financial assistance,” said Wright State president Sue Edwards, who announced the plans during the trustee’s meeting. “Finance is one of our students’ greatest hurdles to success.”

Wright State has seen about a 30% decline in enrollment overall in the last five years, according to the university. But attracting first-year students has been a particular problem: First-year undergraduate student enrollment has declined by 53% since 2015.

The university is also projecting that enrollment will fall this year by 9.4% compared to last year, said Sommer Todd, director of university Fiscal Services.

Todd said the university would also be implementing a state-approved tuition increase, though Wright State’s tuition remains one of the lowest in the state.

In March, Wright State used about $5.2 million in federal funding to help students affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The university issued emergency federal grants of up to $1,100 to 6,741 students enrolled in classes for the spring 2021 semester who met criteria that showed need.

Wright State also gave out emergency grants in May 2020, providing $4.4 million in grants directly to 5,714 students, and in fall 2020, providing $214,750 to 860 students. The students had to meet specific needs and criteria to be eligible.

Previously, the awards were between $75 and $1,100, depending on the need and other criteria.

Students do not need to apply for either the grants or the scholarships, but Everhart said they would need to have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form on file to determine eligibility.

To fill out a FAFSA, go to https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa