August 12, 2009 | Diane Johnson | Leave a comment Since states are experiencing budget shortages in the billions, many states have decided to drastically cut college financial aid programs. Students, who need money the most for college will have to try and find other sources of funding. At least 12 states are reducing award sizes, eliminating grants, and more rigidly controlling eligibility guidelines. Even though the states are cutting or winding down these programs there are a greater number of students seeking financial aid. Many of the programs that are being affected by these changes are need-based grants that provide money which helps students in addition to financial aid being offered by schools and the federal government. Illinois is one state that is cutting the funding for a student award program which will affect 145,000 students. Ohio is eliminating grants up to $2,496 for low-income students and Wisconsin has determined 20,000 low-income students will not be receiving their grants. Without this cash for rent and groceries, some students will be forced to go into debt, transfer to cheaper schools, or drop out. Experts are worried that because of the cuts students will take on too much debt or spend even more time working as they pursue their degree. Since hundreds of thousands of workers are unemployed right now, many of those individuals have decided to pursue their education. The increase in demand for financial aid and the fact there is limited funding creates a huge problem. The U.S. Department of Education has reported that roughly 620,000 students applied for federal aid in the first quarter of this year, which is a 25 percent increase over last year. Not only are loans a problem, but grants are too. Thousands of students especially low-income students are missing out on their grants, because the programs have run out of money. So in order to continue or finish up their degrees, many have decided to tackle more student loans. Currently student loans are at an all time high on an individual basis. Not only are these debts difficult to pay back, but the high loans could eventually cause a reduction in access to higher education and more students defaulting on their loans. Students have a tough road ahead and will have to determine whether pursuing an education is worth it right now. Students can pursue a degree if they wish, but they will have to work diligently not only in school but also at work. Funding for college is going downhill and students will have to consider other ways to pay for college if they had previously been depending on financial aid.