Students learn the truth about financial aid the hard way

Financial aid is a big help for most college students hoping to attain a higher education. Financial aid for a college student can come from federal aid work study programs and federal Pell grants, to local scholarships or tuition grants. Students that choose to attend Seward County Community College have the opportunity to apply for a tuition grant. Students can fill out the tuition grant and a scholarship application. “Everyone has the opportunity to fill out a scholarship application,” Jessica Luallen, financial aid officer said. Scholarship applications are reviewed in the spring and through the first of the fall semester. Financial aid is awarded to students based on different criteria. One key factor that is looked during the process of review is the academic performance of the student. Financial aid is broken down into different levels of scholarships. One of the levels is academics. “As far as academics, that can range from anywhere to $1,000 down to $600 a year,” Luallen said. These scholarships are awarded to students based on their grade point average. Some students believe that after a scholarship has been awarded, it cannot be taken away. That is not correct. A scholarship can be taken away if a student does not meet other requirements that went along with the money awarded to them. The financial aid offices is notified by the registrar’s office when grades have been posted so that financial aid can check the progress for that semester. That is when a student’s GPA is checked and also how many credit hours the student is passing. “You have to pass at least 12 hours,” Luallen said. The tuition grant awarded to students attending Seward has a special requirement that students seem to overlook. “With a tuition grant, we check to make sure that they are involved in a club or organization,” Luallen said. Every semester, students lose their tuition grant because they did not join a club or became part of an organization on campus. According to Luallen, there has been a trend in communication whether it be via letter or email that students simply do not read the information provided for them. All the students who are awarded a scholarship have to go through the Mycampus portal to accept the financial aid. “All the requirements for each of the scholarships are listed on there as they go through the process of accepting it,” Luallen said. The money that is awarded to students is budgeted by The Foundation Board according to the needs of the different programs that are on campus and how many people they have in the club, team or organization. “We present that to their budgetary so it can be presented to the board,” Luallen said. Last year the college awarded just over $530,00 in financial aid. According to Luallen, it does seem like there are more students enrolled at Seward who are applying for the financial aid. This means that the financial aid priority deadline is enforced more than it had been before. Many students were used to getting the financial aid even though they did not meet the priority deadline. “I think there were a lot of people that were used to getting it every year, but there are more people applying and applying earlier,” Luallen said. Alejandra Gonzalez, freshman, was a student who turned in her scholarship application after the deadline. “I went to talk to the financial office and they told me I missed the deadline,” Gonzalez said. “ I was told I would be put on a waiting list.”