August 14, 2008

Refund checks give boost to region’s economy

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois economy will get a shot in the arm this week as thousands of students receive their financial aid refund checks from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Terri R. Harfst, interim director of the financial aid office at SIUC, said the University is sending checks totaling more than $15.65 million to some 5,362 students in the coming days. The money represents what is left over from grants, loans and scholarships after tuition, fees and campus housing bills, and is typically used by students to buy books and other items locally.

In addition, the University also is refunding more than $355,000 to 146 parents of students who took out “parent plus loans” to help pay for their sons’ and daughters’ education. That money, too, will likely roll into the local economy, Harfst said.

“All that money will go into the hands of students and their parents and will stimulate the Southern Illinois economy, plain and simple,” Harfst said. “Students will use the money to buy books, go to the mall or Wal-Mart or wherever and stock up on the things they need.”

Of the 5,362 students receiving refunds, about 43 percent will receive them via direct deposit. Harfst said that gets the money into their hands more quickly and efficiently.

The influx of refund money not only helps the local economy, but also demonstrates the affordability of education at SIUC, she said.

“Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a very affordable institution in comparison with other universities in the state,” Harfst said. “It’s one of the many advantages of coming to SIUC, along with our outstanding programs, dedicated faculty and scenic beauty.”

The fall semester begins on Monday, Aug. 18.