MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- While tuition at the University of Minnesota continues to rise, a report shows that the availability of financial aid to students has kept pace.
Research director J. Peter Zetterberg called the report "good news." But observers note that much of that aid comes in the form of student loans.
Costs within the University of Minnesota system range from around $10,000 for a Crookston undergraduate to more than $41,000 for some nonresidents at the Twin Cities campus.
Student finance director Nancy Sinsabaugh said more loans are not necessarily a bad thing because "even with the tuition increases, and even if you have to borrow everything, your lifetime earnings are so much higher."
Financial aid includes loans, grants, scholarships, federal and state subsidized jobs known as "work study," and tuition waivers.
Zetterberg said it's not surprising that aid has kept pace with cost and noted that there is greater access to loan money in large part because the federal government expanded student eligibility in 1994.
For example, Twin Cities undergraduates saw a nearly 400 percent increase in "non-need" loans between 1992 and now. More traditional need-based loans grew by 46 percent.
Meanwhile, tuition increased about 41 percent.
Last fall, the university imposed a double-digit tuition increase and school officials warn of another sizable increase next year.
An increase in loan aid, according to the report, reflects and supports a change in student behavior. More students try to graduate in four or five years, sometimes borrowing more money to do so.
Sinsabaugh said more than half of all undergraduate and graduate students at the Twin Cities campus get some sort of financial help.
A majority of students at the Crookston and Morris campuses qualify for need-based aid.
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