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Dr. Duane C. Anderson, interim president of East Central University, announced Tuesday [JUNE 16] that students attending ECU this coming year will see no tuition or mandatory fee increases.

"I am pleased to announce that for the first time in several years students will not face any increase in their tuition or mandatory fees," Anderson said. "When I present the university's budget to the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma on Friday [JUNE 19], there will be no request to increase either tuition or mandatory fees."

Earlier this spring the ECU Student Senate had supported a small tuition increase, if necessary, for the 2009-10 academic year.

"I am proud of the Student Senate's understanding of the need for East Central University to be funded adequately," Anderson said, "and of their willingness to shoulder an additional financial burden. I am equally relieved that tuition and fees will not have to be increased."

ECU's tuition and fees for undergraduate on-campus students will stay at $139.20 per credit hour. Tuition and fees for on-campus graduate students will remain at $169.30 per credit hour.

Anderson said no increases are necessary because of new federal funds that will be coming to ECU through President Obama's stimulus bill. A small increase in state funds will partially address the university's mandatory costs.

More good news, Anderson said, is that more students will be eligible for Federal Pell Grants for 2009-10. Pell Grants are direct grants awarded through participating institutions to students with financial need who have not received their first bachelor's degree or who are enrolled in certain post-baccalaureate programs that lead to teacher certification or licensure.

"The maximum Pell Grant is rising from $4,731 in 2008-09 to $5,350 in 2009-10. This is an increase of $619," said Marilyn Schwarz, ECU director of financial aid.

Schwarz said the increase is larger than normal because Pell Grant funds were increased through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act and the federal stimulus package.

"Because of this increase, hundreds of thousands of students will be eligible to receive a Pell grant who would not have qualified otherwise," Schwarz said. "Also, beginning with the 2009-10 school year, students will be eligible to receive year-round Pell grants. Prior to this, if a student received full-time Pell grant in the fall and spring, the student was not eligible for a Pell grant in the summer."

More students also will be eligible for Academic Competitiveness Grants and SMART grants in 2009-10 because part-time students now will qualify for them. Schwarz said students must be eligible for Pell grants even to be considered for these grants. The increase in the number of students qualifying for Pell grants will increase the number of students qualifying for these grants as well.

"Without increases in the cost of tuition and fees," she said, "students' grant dollars will stretch further and help to lower borrower debt."

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