America’s public and private colleges recently dropped from a “D” to an “F” for affordability on the biennial report card issued by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonprofit organization.

However, Judy Dobai, associate vice president for enrollment management, said that Fairfield’s financial aid office makes the most of the money available and tries to help students as much as possible through work study positions, federal loans and grants, state programs and university grant aid.

“The recent, successful capital campaign helps Fairfield ensure we’ll be able to continue to do so,” said Dobai. “In a perfect world, Fairfield would be able to meet 100 percent of the need for all students, but we do not yet have a large enough endowment to do so.”

According to Dobai, every time the university increases tuition, it examines the aid budget.

“In the case of Fairfield, the University is very sensitive to tuition increases and tries to be certain sufficient aid is available for students who need the assistance,” said Dobai.

The Budget Committee balances all the needs of the university and students while also providing financial aid for students who otherwise would not be able to attend Fairfield.

“The Budget Committee has a difficult task because we want to provide the very best educational experiences here,” said Dobai.

She added,”There are costs related to technology, smaller class sizes, special programs and many other aspects that we think make a Fairfield education more valuable for our students in the long run.”

On average, about 80 percent of Fairfield applicants each year are academically qualified to attend the university.

Fairfield doesn’t turn away families with low income. However, the admissions council simply cannot admit all students due to size constraints on campus.

Undergraduate admission and financial aid offices encourage all interested prospective students to apply and allow the university to supply aid awards.

Different awards are given depending on students’ levels of financial need.

“Many are pleased with the level of assistance that Fairfield is able to provide,” said Dobai.

Students’ opinions were mixed when asked about the financial situation at Fairfield.

“I think it is difficult to pay for school here,” said Brennan Clark ’06. “But I still think our school offers more than other schools.”

He added, “I applied to nine schools, some less prestigious than Fairfield, and I got the best package here.”

However, some students disagree and think Fairfield doesn’t give out enough financial aid to families with more than one child in college.

“All of the other schools that I applied to gave me more financial aid but luckily my parents still allowed me to come here,” said Taylor Gilhully ’06. “I think that when it comes to middle class students, the amount of financial aid given is very little, which I think is unfair.”

She added, “But this year, even with my sister going to college as well, we didn’t receive that much more financial aid at all compared to my first two years here.”

Dobai said that although cost is often a significant factor for many students and their families in choosing a college, there is always competition among schools for the brightest students.

Therefore, Fairfield offers the most financial awards it can to students to increase students’ enrollment.

“At the heart of it, students and families make a decision as to the value of the educational experience the student receives here,” said Dobai. “We think that value is substantial not only while a student is at Fairfield but beyond.”

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