Fort Lewis College will begin to offer a tuition payment that will cover all expenses for families who make less than $60,000 a year starting in fall 2020, said Crystal Fankhauser, associate director of the FLC financial aid office.
This payment is made by the college, and will only cover the difference between the total tuition and any amount earned from outside scholarships. The payment will not cover other costs such as meal plans or room and board, and scholarships cannot be allocated to these other costs to allow for a larger tuition payment, she said.
The college also offers an Institutional Need-Based Grant. This is based on the FAFSA calculated Expected Family Contribution value and grants the student between $1,500 and $2,000 per year, she said.
On the federal level, need is determined via an equation. The total cost of attendance after taking things such as the Fort’s Native American tuition waiver, merit scholarship, new tuition payment and outside scholarships into account, the difference between those and the EFC is used to determine need, she said.
This need is then covered by the Pell grant— whose value can reach up to $6,195 for full time students— work study and loans. Of all attending students, 37% are eligible for some amount of money via the Pell grant, according to the Fort Lewis website’s institutional research page.
Fankhauser explained that work study is handled differently state to state, but in Colorado a student can earn up to $3,000 a year through working at the school depending on the FAFSA determined need.
A pool of money exists at the federal level for out of state students and at the state level for those in state. FLC, or any institution, has its own pool of work study money that is used simultaneously with these sources to cover the total cost, she said.
The office’s director, Tracey Piccoli, explained where both the state and federal level money that the college uses comes from.
Federal financial aid money is granted based on reported student-by-student need from three years ago. The school gets more money from the state level, where data from the previous year is used and college lobbyists try to get more aid funding, she said.
As for the institutional level, Fankhauser explained that when creating the financial aid budget for each year, the office has to over-budget. They receive information about student needs from the FAFSA, but as this information goes to every school that an incoming student marks down as being interested in, not every reported student will attend.