⇚ Back : Financial Aid 101

Andres Arredondo: “You have to define financial aid, and the answer is four parts.”


Maren Lujan: “Most students get a combination of these things: they get loans, they can get grants, scholarships, work-study. All of this is going to combine to make up your financial aid package. And this is how you’re going to get college paid for.”


Jacob Pietsch: “So, applying to scholarships my senior year was definitely worth all the effort that I put in – because the financial aid office reduced my loans since I had received that scholarship funding, and it made a better financial aid package for me.”


Andres Arredondo: “Grants is free money that you get through the FAFSA – so it’s, uh, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get money that you don’t have to pay back, to pay for your expenses.”


Lisa Blazer: “And then student loans are funds that you’re going to have to pay back, after you graduate.”


Maren Lujan: “Work-study – it’s a job on campus, it’s going to be flexible hours; the main focus is going to be on you going to college.”


Andres Arredondo: “It’s a job, but it’s not like any other job you’ll ever have in your life. Uh, it’s very flexible, some of them will allow you to study. Uh, you earn money when you show up to work. Uh, and uh that’s basically it. It’s a job that you get guaranteed on campus.”


Maren Lujan: “So, you have to do your application every year. If you’re going to be starting school in August, you need to do the application the January of that year.”


Lisa Blazer: “If you want to pursue that dream career, there’s so many of them that require a college education – that you’re going to need to pursue that, and maybe make an investment. That’s where those student loans, and the grants and everything, are important.”


Andres Arredondo: “Universities and colleges will actually, uh, look at the results of your FAFSA and create a financial aid award for you. And it’ll look slightly different, because the, uh – what happens is, they, each school has a different amount that they charge. Two-year costs different than a four-year, public costs different than a private….”


Darrell: “When I got my award letters, they all came at different times, um. So it’s actually like get the letter in the mail, and I’m like, ‘Hey, look, I got money from this college, I got money from this college.’ Um, like it was – it was pretty exciting, you know. It came down to, like, which college was offering me the most money.”


Jacob Pietsch: “I’ve worked with students before who were looking at one school that cost over thirty-five thousand a year, and another school that cost about twenty-three. It would cost them less money to pursue the more expensive-looking school, because they got a better financial aid package from them.”


Lisa Blazer: “You decide: okay, yes, I want to take all the grants. And I also want to do work-study, and then you decide how much you want to take out in student loans. And we’re really – we really try to advise you, ‘This is what it’s going to cost you to go to school this year, and here’s how much you need.’”


Jacob Pietsch: “There are resources all around you. If you’re in high school, the teachers that you’re working with went to college. They have experiences that they can share with you.”


Maren Lujan: “At your high school, your counselor, if there’s a college adviser there, a career counselor – at financial aid offices in colleges, they can surely help you with your financial aid questions.”


Jacob Pietsch: “Call your financial aid office – go see your counselor or your college adviser, and ask them, well, what are these different kinds of loans? What does this mean? What works best for me here?”


Lisa Blazer: “If you’re not able to come in and visit with a financial aid counselor, the great thing is, you can do that via chat. You can do it on Facebook, you can do it on Twitter – that may be a little bit easier to get those questions answered.”


Maren Lujan: “You don’t have to wait until your senior year to start planning on how to pay for college. There’s plenty of scholarships available to underclassmen, and you can definitely start looking into how to apply for financial aid.”


Jacob Pietsch: “Sometimes there’s fear in high-school students, to make that contact and reach out and say, ‘This is new information for me, and I could really use some help.’ But I think that the rewards when you do that, and the reassurance that you get, and the valuable information, is worth the risk that you take, putting yourself out there and saying, ‘This is new to me, um, and I need some help.’”