A soaring number of students are requesting financial aid as a result of the country’s economic downturn, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Some 8.9 million students filed for federal aid in the first half of this year—up 16.3% from last year. Many public universities are struggling to keep up with the increase, in turn forcing more students to look to loans.
"What we are seeing is more people filling out requests for financial aid, and for those who do, more people are qualifying and the aggregate need is increasing," says one college finance officer. "We are seeing students whose parents in the past have been able to get money from equity lines. Those sources are drying up, and the cost of living and tuition has gone up,” adds another. (Read more college stories.)