The early bird gets the worm. That is, if the bird is a student and the worm is financial aid.
Financial aid is a resource that is available to all students and can be of great value in helping ones education. It is not always the easiest thing to figure out, but with the help of the financial aid office, students can worry a little less about financing their education.
Joanna McCormick, senior director of financial aid and scholarships, understands the relief and difficulty of applying for financial aid.
“I often say to students, financial aid can be kind of complicated,” McCormick said. “But we try to simplify it for you and identify the process. And as long as the student is willing to follow through and stay with us they are going to receive their awards.”
The awards are given on a need basis and this campus has a very needy population. That is why this school received more grant money than any other public state college, about $145 million this year. But even with that the money runs out if students don’t act fast.
The best thing to do is to complete your tax returns and FASFA form early. The earlier those are done, the more money a student can get.
The United Way will be on campus the end of February to help students fill out their tax returns for free.
Students that complete their tax return and FASFA early can get between $600 and $1,000. Along with the PELL grants, there are state funded programs that offer students more grant money. These funds are limited to the early applicants and the more needy students.
There is also a plan that allows students to make payments on their tuition through out the semester. Students will pay 10 percent of tuition up front and then must pay off the remaining amount in three payments during the semester.
Another program that the school offers is an emergency book loan program that allows students who applied for financial aid late to borrow money to pay for books until their financial aid comes in.
Students can also look at scholarships that are available. There have been about approximately $9 million given out in scholarships this year. Most of them are merit based, but some are talent based.
“Every student ought to take a look at the continuing student scholarships that are available,” McCormick said.
Although there is plenty of money available for students, there are also some strings attached. They have to do well in school.
“Students need to maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, attend their classes, finish your classes with a good grade and progress towards your degree,” McCormick said.
If students have any questions or concerns about deadlines or how to apply, McCormick suggest just coming in and talking to one of the financial aid consolers or go to the financial aid website.
“We want everybody to look at the web because we are putting lots of information on there on a very regular basis,” McCormick said.