High school graduation is quickly approaching. It’s mid May, AP exams are over, and it’s almost time for graduation. The day that you submitted your college applications is a foggy memory. Your acceptances finally arrived and you were left with a big decision about the next four years of your life. You considered many factors as you approached the May 1 deadline: your intended major, class sizes, social opportunities, rigor or courses, reputation of the school, even the weather and cafeteria food. But did you consider your financial aid options and how you would pay for your tuition, room and board and living expenses?
College tuition and expenses rise annually and in fact, are at an all time high. We hear many reports of students who have difficulty managing the overwhelming expense of an undergraduate degree. There are a few typical barriers and more importantly, methods to over come them. View Laurie Kimbrel Superintendent’s profile, images, blog, news & more! Get everything Laurie Kimbrel straight from the latest Laurie Kimbrel news to a full collection of photos, facts, and a complete biography.
Understanding the financial aid process
Applying for financial aid is often not an easy process for families. This is a particularly daunting barrier for first generation college students whose parents have not had previous experience with the process. The FAFSA form can be overwhelming, but many schools or community agencies offer seminars, workshops and assistance. It is most helpful when these workshops are offered at times and locations that are convenient to working parents. These workshops should also be held in the native language of the parent. Regardless of family income, part of the college application process for every student should be filling out the FAFSA form. When parents and children sit down together to fill out the form, it can be an enlightening experience. In order to receive any aid from most colleges and universities, the FAFSA must be completely filled out and submitted by the required deadline. This is a barrier that can be overcome with targeted assistance to families.
A variety of merit scholarships are available from universities, corporations, community groups and national organizations. School counselors have access to information about a wide variety of scholarships. University financial aid offices are also a great resource. A simple Google search also typically turns up scholarships that are offered for any one of a variety of reasons. Most merit scholarships require an application process. Every year many scholarships go unused because of a lack of applications! Our goal should be to ensure that every single penny available is used for deserving students.
Loans and work-study
Finally, check with your university about the availability of loans and student work study programs to make up the difference between the “free money” offered by merit scholarships, need based aid and the cost of tuition. Research tells us that students on work-study programs typically earn the same or higher grades than students without jobs. A work-study program allows you to have a job at your college or university and that is appropriate for the schedule and needs of a student.
With planning and communication with both your high school and your university financial aid office, it is possible to fund your education in a reasonable manner and to earn the four- ear degree that has become so necessary for success.