Financial Aid Changes Could Be on the Way

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Trent Davis is a Texas A&M junior. He like many other university students requires aid from the financial aid center on campus.

"It's just going to be a little tight this semester," Davis said. "My parents are not going to be able to afford my tuition, so I'm coming into take out an emergency or a short-term loan."

Trent's parents were unable to financially help him out this semester, so he turned to financial aid. It could soon get tougher, however.

In a $40 billion deficit reduction package that will go back into discussion during the late January session, congress is expected to cut funding for federal student-loan programs.

Lynn Barnes with Texas A&M's financial aid services says the move could increase the debt for future college grads and their families.

"One thing to note is that the changes won't necessarily impact access to funding, but it's going to make it potentially more expensive to borrow funds," Barnes said.

Congress would raise interest rates about two points for Stafford loans, the most common student loan, as well as others. But not all changes would be bad. The good news is changes would go into affect July 1 and the loan limits for freshman would rise.

Families could act fast and get in under the wire, plus the freshman loan limit would jump from $2,600 to about $3,500, but while closely watching what Congress does, Barnes says he's focusing on giving tips to those who need loans now.

The biggest he says is deadlines. Applications started coming in January 1 and money starts going out in March. He says that money does run out.

As for Trent, he's getting a head start filling out his application and is weary about possible changes.

"I'm going to have to worry about higher rates you know bigger sums and that's going to be tough," Davis said.

Some dates to remember for Texas A&M students and parents: Tuesday marks the final day for entering freshman to apply for scholarships, and February 1 is the admission deadline for students wanting to start school next fall.