January 11, 2011

Refund checks provide boost to region's economy

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- As students return to Southern Illinois University Carbondale for next week’s start of the spring semester, many of them bring with them financial aid refund checks, a semi-annual boost to the Carbondale area economy.

The first round of refunds, issued today (Jan. 11), totals more than $24.6 million distributed to more than 7,500 students.

The SIUC Office of Financial Aid processed more than $88.4 million in financial aid for the spring 2011 semester. Financial aid includes grants, loans and scholarships. The University credits the money to the students’ accounts, first paying off charges such as tuition, fees and on-campus room and board. Students who have more financial aid credit than University charges receive a refund.

Typically, students spend the money locally on books, rent and utilities, and other education-related expenses.

“SIUC strives to provide an affordable education for our students,” Terri Harfst, interim financial aid director, said. “Financial assistance helps bridge the gap between cost and the family’s ability to contribute.”

There will be other batches of refunds issued in the coming weeks, though typically in smaller numbers.

The spring semester begins Jan. 18.