Waivers critical to many students



The fees out-of-state students have to pay is causing some of them to leave their institutions in exchange for a job or a college closer to home.

But going back home is Devanny Byrd’s last resort, even after financial aid did not cover the fees for the Birmingham, Ala., native.

Wage reduction for work-study employees left her with a $2,500 balance on her account and kept her from enrolling into Grambling State this semester.

“It breaks my heart for someone to tell me to just go back home,” said Byrd, who graduated at the top of her class and was accepted for admittance to Dillard, LSU’s Honors College, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Xavier University.

“I came here because I felt that Grambling was where I needed to be,” she said.

Byrd, like other students who are in debt to their institutions, feels like very little support and feasible options were offered for her situation.

“They care about the ones that throw footballs, toot horns, or strut during games. I’m just another G number.”

Byrd hopes to get a job in Ruston and save up enough money to register for school this summer.  

Some find it ironic that institutions struggling to keep retention rates up do not offer solutions for students to deal with debt while staying in school.

 Danyelle Allen attended Grambling for a semester before she had to leave because she owed more $2,000.

“Everyone seemed to give me one word answers which was ‘no’,” said Allen, a nursing major.

“If your school’s motto is truly ‘Where Everybody Is Somebody’ then why is there no possible solution for this growing problem?”

Research shows that the cost of college tuition is higher than it’s ever been.

A report from The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’s Trends in College Pricing 2012 found that the cost of college rose four percent in October.

Tuition and fees for in-state students increased from $8,256 to $8,655 compared to an increase from $20,823 to $21,706 in fees for out-of-state students. IS THIS STATISTIC NATIONAL, STATE, WHAT? 

For some students facing crippling college costs, it is evident that getting into college is much easier than staying in.

“I should have more financial help since I’ve been here so long,” said Hasani Banks, a Sacramento, Calif., native who was very close to leaving school because of financial issues.

Banks said that schools charging students out-of-state fees and giving students the ultimatum of paying up or going home is a business.

“They want our money now instead of educating us for the future,” Banks said. “I know so many people who have dropped out because of financial problems. I was almost one of them had I not been blessed with a friend who was able to give me $1,500.”

Vice President of Finance Leon Sanders said the out-of-state fee is mandated by the University of Louisiana System. Students involved in sports, choir or band are eligible for an out-of-state fee waiver. Those who do not qualify have a few options.

“My suggestion is that they need to check out all of the financial resources available to both them and their parents,” Sanders said. “They may have to borrow from their 401ks, seek private loans or go to credit unions.” I ASSUME SANDERS SAID THIS. THE NAME WASN’T THERE; I INSERTED IT

The second option is to sign a promissory note to set up a payment plan.

“A student must have 75 percent of the fee either through their own means or loans and financial aid,” Sanders said. “If they don’t have it, then they are not eligible for the payment plan. Those are the only options.” I ASSUME SANDERS SAID THIS. THE NAME WASN’T THERE; I INSERTED IT

Because Grambling does not have a large pool of unrestricted funds, options for students struggling to pay fees are “very limited and there is nothing the University can do,” said Sanders.

It is also mandatory that students pay fees before registering for the next semester because Grambling, like other ULS schools, is more dependent on tuition and fees than state support. 

Fees must be collected from students or else Grambling “can’t pay salaries to operate the college,” said Sanders.