$89.2 million awarded to UNI students during the 2021-2022 school year



Students who need help with financial aid, or seeking more information can contact the Office of Financial Aid in Gilchrist Hall.

MEG GROVE, Staff Writer

The University of Northern Iowa has released their 2022 financial aid annual report stating that $89.2 million was awarded to students in financial aid during the 2021-2022 school year. Almost 8,400 students received aid, including 98% of first-year students and 91% of all students at UNI. 

Funds for financial aid come in multiple forms. According to the recent annual report, over half of the funds come from the federal government. Over 26% comes from the institution itself. “That would be university funded scholarship and grant programs,” said Timothy Bakula, director of the UNI Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. “Some of those scholarships are awarded based on admission criteria. Others are based on how well you do in an academic program.” State, foundation and other sources, such as hometown scholarships, are additional sources of funds that contribute to financial aid.

The TEACH Grant is an important federal grant awarded to students planning to teach in a high-need field in a low-income school. This grant is crucial since elementary education is the largest major at UNI. Almost $1.4 million was awarded to 424 students during the 2022 fiscal year with 2,677 students receiving TEACH Grant funding since its inception in 2008.

The annual report lists four ways financial aid is disbursed. Just over 47% of financial aid is disbursed through grants and scholarships with loans not far behind, making up 43.9% of financial aid. Less than 10% of financial aid is disbursed through employment and work study opportunities combined.

On average, students at UNI graduate with less debt than the state and national averages. The average student indebtedness at UNI is $24,235, this number is even less when including transfer students. UNI is able to keep student debt low in a variety of ways. UNI is the most affordable public school in Iowa, creating less debt in the first place. 

“We do quite a bit of counseling for students… especially when it comes to loans,” said Bakula. “A big emphasis in our office is doing everything possible to educate students so they’re not borrowing any more than they need to.” Private loan borrowing has decreased significantly since requiring a one-on-one meeting before the loan is approved leading to less debt after graduation. Financial literacy courses are also required for all incoming freshmen students through Live Like a Student, an in-person three week class, or Panther CashCourse, an online course. 36.4% of students graduated without debt in 2022. 

Most students rely on financial aid to help pay their tuition. “The rule of our office is to help students access higher education in an affordable manner,” said Bakula. “That’s the goal of financial aid, to open doors to students to pursue opportunities.” In-state tuition at UNI is $8,111, while out-of-state tuition is $19,265. Without financial aid many students wouldn’t be able to afford attending UNI. “Overall financial aid is the bridge that allows students to access and afford college,” said Bakula.

Students needing help applying and managing financial aid can visit the financial aid website to find more information. Appointments with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships can be made online or by calling the office at 319-273-2700.