Financial aid was created in order to help make college more affordable but many families don’t understand how it works. It is essentially any type of funding that helps with the cost including scholarships, grants, and loans.
Tammy Crothers, the Director of Financial Aid at Eureka College, says there are a lot of common misconceptions about financial aid. “People do not fully understand what it is because it is such a broad term. People usually assume they are either too rich or too poor to qualify for financial aid when that is definitely not the case considering the different types of financial aid,” she says.
Gift aid, borrowed aid, and earned aid are the three different types of financial aid and are calculated based on a family’s need, a student’s year in school, enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school. In the state of Illinois, they disperse their map grant fund on a first come first serve basis to the high financial need students.
“I often see students not paying attention to simple deadlines and requirements. Especially first-generation students who don’t have parents to help them understand what they need to do,” said Crothers.
The most common application for financial aid is called a FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid). Filing this makes you eligible to receive federal and state funding before each academic year of college.
“The process of filling out a FAFSA is actually quite simple and is extremely helpful to help afford college and people don’t realize how much it helps until later down the road when it is too late,” said Crothers.
According to Inside Higher Ed, in a study conducted on incoming college freshman only 65% of students filled out a FAFSA.
“As financial aid administrators, we do our best to make sure students are informed about filing a FASFA along with the requirements and deadlines. I often hear students say, ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I will do it later’ which can be quite frustrating. It is not until their later years of college when they start wishing they would have payed more attention,” said Crothers.
The FAFSA can be filled out any time after Oct. 1. Use the Student Planning Services located in Poling Hall for any questions relating your FAFSA.
Gabby Crothers – Contributing Writer