Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News

The Rochester-based university freed $250,000 in additional financial aid this month for students on the brink of dropping out because of sudden setbacks. Students would not have to repay the money.

"Any student who is in financial straits will contact our financial aid office, and there will be money available to help them finish their school," said Oakland President Gary Russi.

"It's a really good investment," Dan Evola, student body president, said of Oakland's aid program.

About 200 students have inquired about the free assistance. The university is asking for written verification showing that their financial situation has significantly changed.

About 15 percent of those students have been shown to be eligible for the special assistance, said university spokesman Ted Montgomery.

Colleges across the state are reaching out to students who are struggling. Wayne State University, Lawrence Technological University and Michigan State University are among the institutions that recently rolled out new financial aid programs.

In addition, Oakland University has allowed students with an overdue balance of $1,500 or less to register for winter classes to encourage sustained enrollment. In the past, the university held up such registrations until the bill was paid.

About 550 students had overdue balances for the fall semester; 120 of them have registered for winter classes. All outstanding bills must be paid by Jan. 2.

An additional 70 students paid their balance, but have not registered for the winter semester.
"We are staying in close contact with all of these students to make sure they register for winter, if that is their intention," Montgomery said.

Tuition is $8,324 a year for full-time freshmen and sophomores and $9,091 for juniors and seniors.


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