Expo helps students fund their education

The Student Center Ballroom was filled with booths dedicated to helping students find scholarships, jobs and financial aid yesterday at the Fourth Annual Financial Aid and Scholarship Expo.

Sylvia Bustard, assistant director of student financial aid, coordinated the event. The expo, which stemmed from a student’s idea, has welcomed about 500 students in the past, and Bustard said she hoped to top that number this year.

“(Students) will get all the information that they need for the upcoming year,” Bustard said. “This is the way to reach out to them.”

The Financial Aid office invited representatives from Residence Services, Career Services, Adult Services and various academic departments to help students. They offered on- and off-campus jobs, degree and non-degree positions and internships.

The expo also offered one-on-one FAFSA consultations and two financial overview presentations.

Bustard said there seems to be a disconnection of information between students and financial aid information, but the expo is a way to facilitate that.

“Getting the word out and increasing the awareness about financial aid opportunities is the key,” Bustard said. “This expo is the one-stop shop for information regarding financial aid.”

Freshman psychology major Ciara Dennis said the expo was her first scholarship fair and not what she expected.

“It’s OK,” Dennis said. “It’s not as helpful as I thought it was going to be, to be honest.”

Dennis said she was disappointed in the expo because many of the scholarships were targeted at older students.

“It’ll probably be more helpful in a couple years,” she said.

Dennis said she was looking for “any financial aid that I can get,” and would still come back to the expo next year despite her disappointment.

On the other hand, Mehnaz Alam, freshman business administration major, said she benefited from the event.

“I’m an international student, so I thought I was excluded for scholarships,” Alam said. “But I found out that there are so many academic scholarship opportunities for me at this school, regardless if I’m a U.S. resident or not. Most public universities don’t have that.”

The expo’s program is determined by students’ comments and information from the academic departments represented.

Bustard said she felt there was a scholarship available for everyone at the expo.

“I think anybody who’s reasonably well-qualified as a student can find a scholarship,” she said.

She recommends applying for scholarships that include an essay because “you beat your competition based on their un-willingness to do the extra work.”

Contact student finances reporter Allison Remcheck at [email protected] and student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].