Show Me the Money! Part 1: What to Look For.

By RENE TREZISE, Director of Marketing and Communications, Potomac State College

According to West Virginia's Guide to Student Aid , if students apply, they have a good chance of receiving student aid since about two-thirds of all full-time students enrolled in colleges and other higher education institutions have received help in recent years. There are also aid programs for part-time students.

Generally, the following four types of student aid are available:

Scholarships - This type of aid is extremely attractive because it need not be repaid. Scholarships can be based on academic performance, financial need, religious affiliation, minority status, heritage, community affiliations, or a unique set of criteria that is important to the organization providing the money.

The major state program is the PROMISE Scholarship Program with an application deadline of January 31. To learn more, go to http://www.promisescholarships.org

The interactive
Web site WV Mentor http://www.wvmentor.org offers the world's largest, free scholarship search featuring more than one million scholarships worth more than $3.1 billion.

Grants - This type of aid normally does not need to be repaid. Grants are based on financial need. The state-level grant program is the West Virginia Higher Education Grant which is administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. The deadline for application is March 1. To learn more, go to http://www.wvapply.com.

Two other grants with which students should become familiar are the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. You apply for these when you submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application. For further information, check with your high school guidance counselors or check out http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

Loans - Of course, this type of aid requires repayment on the borrowed money at specific interest rates. However, don't discount this option, because the interest rates and terms of these special loans are very reasonable.

For example, American Education Services offers West Virginia residents the most affordable student loan in the nation. For more information visit http://www.wvmentor.org.

Other Loans with which you should be familiar include:

The Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest (5 percent) loan for both undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. The student's college is the lender. The loan is made with government funds and the college contributes a share. This loan is repaid to the school.

Both the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) programs consist of what are generally known as Stafford Loans for undergraduate and graduate students and PLUS Loans, for the parents of dependent undergraduates. Direct and FFEL Stafford Loans have variable interest rates and can be either subsidized or unsubsidized.

A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. Students won't be charged any interest before they begin repayment or during deferment periods. The federal government "subsidizes" the interest during these periods.

An unsubsidized loan is not awarded on the basis of need. The student will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it's paid in full. If a student allows the interest to accrue (accumulate) while they are in school or during other periods of nonpayment, it will be capitalized. This means the interest will be added to the principal amount of their loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount.

The Federal Work-Study Program - This aid provides jobs for financially needy students. Students generally work from 10 to 15 hours per week during the academic year (and up to 40 hours per week during the summer) at on-campus or off-campus jobs.

The hourly pay rate is at least the federal minimum wage and may be higher depending on the required job skills. College financial aid administrators try to arrange for jobs that correspond to the student's academic or career interests.

Again, to clarify any of the above information, check with your high school guidance counselors Richard Boehmes, Janet Kalbaugh and Cary Kyle at
Keyser High School, and Bill Hipkiss and Doug Long at Frankfort High School, or the Office of Enrollment Services at Potomac State College of WVU at (304) 788-6820.

 

Each type of aid will be discussed in the upcoming articles in this column.


Additional Resources:

 

All "College Tips" columns are available at http://www.newstribune.info

http:// www.studentaid.ed.gov -Federal Student Aid, Federal Grant Program (Pell), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study Program

http://www.wvapply.com - WV Apply, Admission and Financial Aid Information

WV Mentor http://www.wvmentor.org

 

Mineral County Technical Center at http://mctc.mine.tec.wv.us/college.htm (304-788-4240)

Potomac State College of West Virginia University at http://www.potomacstatecollege.edu or (304-788-6820 or toll free: 1-800-262-7332)

 

Eastern Community and Technical College at http://www.eastern.wvnet.edu (304-434-8000; or toll free: 1-877-982-2322)

 

Community and Technical College System of West Virginia at http://www.wvtechprpe.wvnet.edu (304-558-2411)