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Updated 10:00 AM August 14, 2006




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M-PACT expansion replaces some loans with grants

U-M is expanding its M-PACT program by replacing student loans with grants for the most needy students. With the changes, the program immediately will save more than 400 students at least $5,000 per year.

"Expanding M-PACT is part of our commitment to accessibility and breaking down barriers," says Provost Teresa Sullivan. "We seek the finest students from all walks of life regardless of their income."

The changes are part of an overall 10 percent increase in financial aid grant levels for new and returning students. About two-thirds of U-M students receive some form of merit or need-based financial aid.

A typical freshman in LSA receiving the full benefits of the expanded M-PACT program would be awarded $2,500 in federal work-study and $17,678 in grants from federal, state and U-M sources. The total package covers tuition, room and board, books and other expenses. Unlike loans, students do not have to repay grants and work-study assistance.

M-PACT, open to low-income Michigan resident undergraduates, supplements traditional financial aid. The program is projected to disburse more than $3 million next year to more than 1,800 students.

Even before the new program Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine rated U-M 16th on a national list of the 100 best values in public higher education. Because family income, the number of siblings and other factors can impact aid packages, financial aid officials advise students to apply for aid at least once to find out what options might be available.

Pam Fowler, financial aid director, notes students from low-income families typically have an aversion to taking on student loans, sometimes making them less likely to pursue a college degree.

"High undergraduate debt is especially hard on the lowest income students and may discourage the students from enrolling in graduate or professional school," Fowler says.

U-M is working through The Michigan Difference campaign to raise a permanent endowment of at least $60 million to support M-PACT, launched by President Mary Sue Coleman early in 2005.

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