For many students, financial aid is a tool that helps students be able to afford and attend college.
Different kinds of aid include federal and state grants, student loans, and parent loans along with a variety of scholarships.
Close to 6,000 students are receiving financial aid this quarter from Pierce College. During the entire 2011–2012 school year about 13,830 students submitted FAFSAs and received financial aid. This year, through Nov. 7, about 14,900 students have submitted FAFSAs to receive financial aid from Pierce College.
“I have not had any troubles this year with financial aid,” student Ernesto Alegria said. “I received the aid I applied for without complications.”
Anne White, district director of enrollment services and interim director of financial aid for Pierce College, urges students not to ignore the tools at their disposal.
For students who are unaware of what documents to send then must make sure to check their student email accounts for messages from the financial aid office.
“It’s important that students use their student email,” White said.
Another tool students should take advantage of is the financial aid portal that they can log into on the financial aid page on the Pierce College website.
This portal supplies students with the information such as what documents that are still needed to be turned in or that have already been received.
Without the correct documents, the most common being the independent student verification form or the tax transcript, students can’t receive the appropriate aid they need.
Sometimes students are confused on what they need to bring due to a breakdown of communication between financial staff and the students.
Most students will come to the financial aid office to talk to a staff member and then leave but forget what to do because they weren’t clear on how apply to receive aid.
“With the old set up of financial you would be talking directly with the person in control of financial,” Pierce College student Lara Eastman said. “Now students talk to their assistants who only know the basics and don’t get to talk with the people who actually know what to do.”
If students are confused they shouldn’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” to the financial aid staff and ask for more detail on what to do.
However, financial aid undeniably has its faults that have not gone unnoticed.
Pierce College students are the ones who suffer when troubles arise, mainly when it comes to the numerous documents students need to turn in.
Full-time student Tyler Mahoney had such problems when it came to financial aid receiving his paperwork.
“I have had to reapply several times due to my paperwork getting lost within the channels somewhere,” he said. “Also, the process of applying and reapplying is extremely tedious as well.”
According White, financial aid staff members should be able to look up what the students needs to turn in so they don’t have to reapply due to lost paper work, even though most submissions are online.
Though the problem, or assumption, of lost documents may be due to the amount of time is takes for all of the paperwork to be processed.
This is especially an issue for first time students who have to wait 30 days before they receive financial aid from the college.
“There have been times in the past when financial aid was still taking a lot of time to get through all the paperwork and give financial aid to the students who applied for it,” White said. “This quarter we aren’t having any issues of being behind when it comes to students receiving their aid. In fact every student who applied for financial aid this quarter received the aid they required.”
Students shouldn’t be afraid to pursue for answers or ask financial aid staff questions when they don’t know what the next step to take is.
White and Erin Anderson, program manager of financial aid, are willing to hear any questions, comments or concerns with financial aid in order to improve the quality and service of the program.
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