Reprinted here in its entirety.
The holidays are here, the year is coming to an end, and minds
are drifting to thoughts of roasted turkeys, warm fires and winter vacation. Now
is also the right time for high school seniors and students already attending
college to search for college financial assistance options.
This school year may not be over, but financial aid deadlines for next year
are just around the corner.
About 75 percent of Jacksonville State University students receive some type
of financial assistance, and there is no reason to be left out of an opportunity
of this measure. The procedure of applying for and being awarded financial aid
can be a frustrating one and the Feb. 1 deadline will be here in a flash.
Fortunately, the JSU Financial Aid Department works diligently to ensure
students’ financial needs are met. Several programs of assistance are offered
for current students and future Gamecocks who need help paying tuition.
The first, and most important, step to take in order to be considered for
college and federal funds is to fill out the Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA). Without a FAFSA filled out, a student cannot take another
step toward financial freedom with the help of federal funds.
The quickest way to complete a FAFSA is online at www.fafsa.com. The
information listed on the FAFSA is calculated by the U.S. Department of
Education, and enrollment status determines an individual student’s eligibility.
According to a funding education guide published by the U.S. Department of
Education, the Federal Student Aid, an office within the department, administers
programs comprising the nation’s largest source of student aid. “During the
2005-06 school year alone, (Federal Student Ai) provided approximately $78
billion in new aid to nearly 10 million postsecondary students and their
There are five main types of financial grants a student may receive: the
Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG),
Academic Competitiveness Grant, National Science & Mathematics Access to
Retain Talent (SMART) Grant and the Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership
Grants are good to apply to first because, unlike loans, they act as
financial gifts and do not have to be repaid.
Receiving of funds from the Federal Pell Grant is based on several factors,
such as financial need (taken from the FAFSA), cost of the school one plans to
attend and a student’s status (full or part-time). In order to be considered for
the other four grants, a student must first be eligible for the Pell Grant,
making this particular federal grant an important next step.
Students continuing the search for financial aid should look at scholarships
as the next step in the process.
Jacksonville State University offers two types of scholarships: university
and leadership. The university offers various academic scholarships for entering
freshmen as well as those already enrolled.
Most of our monies are distributed based on an applicant’s academic or
extracurricular record, while some scholarships are based on demonstrated
financial need. The submission of a student’s FAFSA is the first step to gaining
these funds as well.
A number of one-year, full-tuition Leadership scholarships are available to
high school senior applicants. This scholarship is primarily based on leadership
roles, offices held in extracurricular activities and community involvement.
Interested applicants must be unconditionally accepted to JSU and will need to
send a resume, a photograph and a copy of their high school transcript along
with an application.
After grants and scholarships, there is a third type of financial aid for a
student to consider.
Employment through the university can not only help a student financially, it
can also serve as a vital resume builder. Part-time employment, either on or off
campus, enables many students to earn money toward their educational expenses,
thereby reducing their need to borrow funds and increasing potential job success
in the future.
The Office of Financial Aid at JSU advises students to apply for all types of
financial aid as early as possible. With all the types of aid offered, it is
also imperative to keep copies of correspondence and materials collected.
Armed with the right data and aware of deadlines, students can map out a
financial plan tailored just for them. Money should not be a factor in deciding
whether a student will continue schooling with a postsecondary education. Take
action and plant seeds now while there is still time to plow the fields and
workers to help with the task. Financial aid for college is a harvest every
student can reap.
More information about grants can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov and
further information concerning scholarships at JSU is located at www.jsu.edu/depart/finaid.
A free copy of the U.S. Department of Education publication, “Funding
Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid,” can be ordered
online at www.FSApubs.org
or by calling 1-800-394-7084.
Ann Muriithi and Erin Chupp, graduate assistants in the Office of Marketing
and Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com