PSC News

Apply for financial aid early in college application process

2014-01-06T00:00:00Z Apply for financial aid early in college application processJennifer Stoner Times Columnist nwitimes.com
January 06, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Prairie State College offers an excellent education at an affordable price. But even at that affordable price, students still need to pay for tuition, books, and fees, and the amount can be overwhelming. The key is to research funding sources and apply for financial aid.

The earlier you start the financial aid process the better. Think of financial aid as a large soup pot simmering on a stove. There is a limited amount of soup in the pot – and there is a limited amount of money available for financial aid. If you are one of the first ones to apply the better chance you have of receiving aid.

If you are planning on attending college in the fall, you need to start the financial aid process in January. First, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Then put in the school code for where you want to attend. For PSC, the school code is 001640. There are three options to file a FAFSA: online at fafsa.gov; download a FAFSA from http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/fafs/fafsa_options.html; or call to request a paper FAFSA at (800) 433-3243.

PSC is notified by the Department of Education of students who indicated that PSC is their college of choice. Once PSC receives your FAFSA from the Department of Education, a letter is mailed indicating the necessary documents to complete the financial aid file. At the same time – in January –a PSC financial aid application must be completed. Once all documents are completed and submitted to the financial aid office, an award or ineligible letter is issued.

Financial aid must be applied for every year. Since college typically takes several years, plan on completing the FAFSA every January.

For qualified students there are federal and state programs available. The Pell Grant is available to undergraduates and does not have to be repaid. The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students.

The Federal Work Study Program provides funds earned through part-time employment. The Monetary Award Program Grant is an Illinois state grant for residents of Illinois awarded to students that attend approved Illinois post- secondary institutions. The MAP grant is applied to tuition and fees only.

Federal loans are awarded to students who have completed the FAFSA and qualify based on financial need and are enrolled at least half-time. The primary loans are the direct Stafford subsidized loan (the government pays the interest while you are in school) and the direct Stafford unsubsidized loan (the student pays the interest but payment can be delayed until after graduation). A PLUS loan is offered to the parents of students enrolled at least half time.

Individuals wanting to attend PSC who are ineligible for financial aid may apply for a PSC Foundation scholarship or loan. To apply you must enroll for a minimum of six credit hours and complete the FAFSA. For additional information on PSC Foundation scholarships and loans, call (708) 709-3631 or visit prairiestate.edu/foundation.

For information on PSC and financial aid visit prairiestate.edu.

The opinions are solely the writer's. Jennifer Stoner is the executive director of communications and marketing at Prairie State College. She can be reached at jstoner@prairiestate.edu.

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