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26 November 2007
Town & Gown:
Programs Help Students Get Financial Aid

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown

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 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 families.”

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 Program (LEAPP).

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 and further information concerning scholarships at JSU is located at

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 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: .

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