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AIC's new financial program to help students

Date: 4/14/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- American International College (AIC) announced its own economic stimulus package on Wednesday -- a group of programs that will help low income students receive the education they need to succeed.

AIC Vice President for Admission Services Peter Miller said, "If the college fails to respond [to the current economic crisis] we would be limiting access to those who would benefit from it the most."

Springfield School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram said AIC's new programs would "provide access and opportunity for kids who might not be able to pursue higher education."

Miller said at a press conference the package includes expansion of a current AIC program. AIC had been offering a $2,500 scholarship to the dependent children of Springfield municipal employees for the past three years and is now offering the same scholarship to the children of any municipal employee in Hampden County as well as county employees.

Currently there are 40 AIC students taking advantage of that scholarship and Miller expects that number to now triple.

Miller also said the most needy commuting students who qualify for a new program would pay only for books and fees. Douglas Fish, the associate vice president of financial aid at the college, explained that these students, once they qualified and received a Pell Grant, a Massachusetts State Grant and two Stafford Loans, would then have $12,250 in tuition discounted.

Tuition at the college is currently $25,500.

Fish estimated that about 30 percent of the current enrollment would qualify. About 50 percent of the total undergraduate population of 1,725 students is commuters.

Miller said that students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FARSA) form by May 1 and the college will be offering workshops to help parents fill out the financial aid forms.

Miller said the college would reduce the cost of tuition for students currently in Master Degree program who lose their job.

Applications to the college this year have seen "a little decrease" Miller said. He attributed the decrease to "students waiting longer to making their plans."

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said, "Vince [AIC President Vincent Maniaci] gets it. AIC gets it. This is all about access."