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[...] my experience in both the college admissions and financial aid arenas is that most students do have the opportunity to pursue a college education and usually at one of their top choice institutions. What I want to emphasize here is that the basic premise of financial aid is that you and your parents are the primary source of funds for your post-secondary education and are expected to contribute to the extent that you and your parents are able. Federal regulations prevail and institutional policies and procedures guide financial aid administrators in their decision-making process.
SBOCS&CG The Financial Aid Maze: Making Sense of It All BY JOSEPH J. MARTINKOVIC O ne of the most troubling questions college-bound students are faced with as they consider pur- suing higher education is: “What if my parents can’t afford to send me to col- lege?” Well, that certainly can happen and for a variety of reasons. But my experience in both the college admissions and ﬁnancial aid arenas is that most students do have the opportunity to pursue a college education and usually at one of their top choice institutions. cal college. Not only does it help your upon the availability of ﬁnancial aid The Basic Premise family out ﬁnancially but it also shows funds at respective institutions. Just what is this magical and mysti- your family your commitment and de- cal thing called ﬁnancial aid? Well, the termination (and they just might go that easiest way to describe it is that ﬁnan- extra mile to help you get to where you Types of Financial Aid cial aid is money applied against your want to go). I’ve found that students who There are three types of ﬁnancial college costs to help you obtain your buy into their education tend to beneﬁt aid: gift aid, loan aid and work aid. college education. What I want to em- more from their education. After all, it is Let’s take a brief look at each type. phasize here is that the basic premise of an investment in your future. Gift aid is by far the most popular and ﬁnancial aid is that you and your par- One thing’s for sure – ﬁnancial aid sought-after type of ﬁnancial aid. Gift aid ents are the primary source of funds for is not an entitlement program. Simply usually takes the form of a grant or schol- your post-secondary education and are stated, there are no guarantees since arship. The best part of this type of award expected to contribute to the extent everything is contingent upon funding. is that it doesn’t have to be paid back (I that you and your parents are able. Federal regulations prevail and insti- guess that’s why they call it a gift). If you Did you notice I threw in the word tutional policies and procedures guide are applying for need-based ﬁnancial aid, “you”? I think it’s extremely important ﬁnancial aid administrators in their gift aid based on need is usually called a that you contribute ﬁnancially toward decision-making process. You need to grant. If, for example, you are musically your education in some way. You could know that you and your family will talented and plan to pursue music as a work a part-time job and save to pay for have to contribute something toward college major or a career, you may be of- books and supplies, or help with your liv- your education and perhaps, in some fered a talent scholarship. Scholarships ing expenses if you live in campus hous- cases, the whole enchilada. But there may be based more on your ability, tal- ing, or cover your weekly travel expenses are opportunities that exist that aim to ent, or skills than on your ﬁnancial need. if you’re commuting from home to a lo- help as much as possible, contingent The same is true if you’re an exceptional SBO College Search & Career Guide 2010 13 student scholastically in high school. fered a Federal Perkins Loan or a sub- on a regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly or Some colleges and universities acknowl- sidized Federal Stafford Loan. Both of monthly). Some colleges will allow you edge students’ hard work and efforts and these programs
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