Financial aid opportunities continue to be overlooked

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Financial aid opportunities continue to be overlooked

 (Michael Lin)

(Michael Lin)

(Michael Lin)

(Michael Lin)

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As I sit in front of her desk, she bombards me with information that makes my jaw drop. It is the kind of material you wish you had known all along. The kind of knowledge that destroys everything you thought you knew, and replaces it with what you need to know.

Nearly half of the students at Skyline still don’t apply for financial aid. It is something that’s not limited to the needy, but for anyone who needs help covering the rising costs of education. These are fees that can be covered– so why aren’t they being utilized? Students often have a myriad of excuses for why they haven’t applied. Some think it’s because they’re not poor enough, and others think it’s pointless because they were rejected in the past. Additionally, many students are not sure how the application process works.

According to Financial Aide Supervisor Regina Morrison, most students don’t apply because they think they won’t be eligible, or weren’t eligible for it in the past.

“Financial aid is not just cash aid assistance,” Morrison said. “A large majority of our students at community colleges are eligible for the Board of Governor’s Grant to pay for their enrollment fees.”

Students who may not be eligible for grant money from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may still qualify for the Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOGFW). Skyline student Trivan Lovings is an example of a student who has benefited from government aid.

“I don’t really think a lot of people know about the Board of Governors Fee Waiver, which I’ve been able to get,” Lovings said. “A lot people just think they automatically don’t qualify, and so they don’t apply.”

This fee waiver typically covers a broader scope of applicants than the FAFSA does. The amount of money may not be as much, but students shouldn’t argue against it if the outcome means reduced costs for school.

Morrison also encourages students who’ve applied before to try again, especially if their financial situation has changed for the worse or is currently worse than their tax return indicates. The financial aid office has an open door policy for students that need help to determine whether they’d be eligible for aid or need assistance in applying for it.

Besides lacking the information necessary to solicit financial assistance, some students simply struggle with the application process. Skyline student and nursing major, Josephine Villa, believes that this is one of the main reasons students don’t inquire about getting extra help.

“Some people think that the process is just too long,” Villa said.

She also mentioned that in the past, the process took only about an hour for her to complete. However, for students who are hesitant to complete the application because they fear it will require too much work, Morrison says that there are workshops specifically created to assist students through the process.

“I know the application is complicated, and it can frustrate people,” Morrison said. “I think that is one of the reasons why students don’t apply.”

For anyone who thinks they may not get any financial assistance, the people at the financial aid office will ultimately be the ones to decide that for you. It’s a win-win situation either way because the process is simple and help is always available.

“There’s no reason to beat yourself up over it—that’s what we’re here for,” Morrison said. “It doesn’t matter to us if the [student] is not coming to Skyline. The main thing is to get people to apply for financial aid to help them pay for their education.”