How to make break count

Ashten Haswell

Look for funds for next year

With the semester ending, students may be feeling burned-out from pulling all-nighters to study for tests. While they may see winter break as a time to relax, there are some things students can do to get ahead.

Yvonna Washington-Greer, assistant director for student financial aid, said if students are coming back in the spring and still need money, they should look at alternative sources for financial aid.

Washington-Greer said some students haven’t even filled out a FAFSA form yet. She suggested these students do this first to see if they qualify for aid. She also said students can talk to their parents about the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, which is available only to parents of dependent undergraduate students.

Another option for students to get additional funding is by applying for alternative loans, which are private loans from banks.

“On our Web site, we have listed three banks with direct links and phone numbers where students can go to contact those banks and start their application process,” Washington-Greer said. “It’s not exclusive. They can work with any bank that does alternative loans.”

Conni Dubick, associate director for student financial aid, said it is also important for students to evaluate their grades over the winter break, because federal regulations require Kent State to review the academic progress of students who have applied for or received federal financial aid. The purpose of this review process is to measure whether a student is making satisfactory progress toward his or her education goals.

Dubick said the Student Financial Aid Office will notify students who do not meet the Standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress after the end of the spring semester. Students who consistently abuse the policy will be denied eligibility for financial aid.

While students may be busy with a job or other obligations, winter break can be a perfect time to start looking for scholarships to assist with financial expenses as well.

On the Student Financial Aid Web site, there is a scholarship search qualifier. It allows students to type in specific criteria about themselves. The search will then return with the scholarships for which the student qualifies.

Dubick said if students are serious about finding a scholarship to help with expenses, she thinks they should apply for all of them.

The extra long break also gives students the opportunity to apply for FAFSA for the 2009-2010 school year. Students may apply starting Jan. 1 at midnight.

The benefit of filling out a FAFSA form early is that these forms will be downloaded first by the university as of March 1. Students who apply early will be awarded their money first, allowing them to know how much money they will be receiving.

Dubick said students will get their award letters around April.

Contact student affairs reporter Ashten Haswell at [email protected].