Despite the summer semester starting, paying for fall classes may already be on people’s minds. With the new academic year approaching, people may want to consider how to receive financial aid.
Even during the summer, some students want to get a head start in completing requirements that are necessary to obtain financial aid.
Whether it be determining what scholarships to apply for or accepting certain awards, there can be a variety of steps one may to take to ensure they are financially prepared for the next school year.
Laura Scott, associate director of Tech Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, said one should first consider the Free Application for Federal Student Aid if he or she is a U.S. citizen or the Texas Application for State Financial Aid if he or she is a non-U.S. citizen residing in Texas. She said it is important for a student to understand which application to complete, as a person cannot fill out both and will only be eligible for financial aid given from one of the applications.
Regardless of the funds one may be eligible for, Scott said both applications will open on Oct. 1 and have a priority date of Jan. 15.
“Some of these funds are limited, so priority goes to students who apply early,” she said. “To that end, the state of Texas has a priority date of Jan. 15 to remind people to do it early.”
If a person needs to fill out an application, Scott said one can still apply after Jan. 15, as it is not a deadline date. She said the longer people wait to fill out an application, funds may become less available.
As those opening dates approach, students may wonder what information is necessary to complete the applications.
“It does use the income tax from both the student and the parent from two years ago,” Scott said. “But the data retrieval tool has made things a lot more simple.”
If a student or parent is eligible to use this data retrieval tool, Scott said they can have their information imported from the Internal Revenue Service, which can help in avoiding mistakes that result from manually filling out information in the application.
If a student has not already done so, Scott said one should also visit the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships links in the side bar of their Raiderlink account and accept financial aid awards and loans, accept terms and conditions for financial aid and complete expected enrollment.
“We need to have expected enrollment completed before we can determine a student’s financial aid eligibility,” she said regarding one of the steps students typically forget. “Fifty-one percent of our students have completed it.”
Along with filling out certain information online, different types of financial aid may require a student to meet specified standards.
Satisfactory Academic Progress is a requirement Scott said consists of students needing to keep their grades up, complete classes they have registered for and take classes toward their degree program in order to be eligible for certain awards. In addition to maintaining a satisfactory grade point average, she said some awards require more than just good grades.
“As students are mapping out what they are going to take each term and how long it’s going to take them, make sure that they know that many of our grants and scholarships require students to be enrolled at least halftime, which is six credits or more, in order to be eligible,” Scott said.
In addition to staying eligible for awards one already has, Scott said applying or accepting new loans and scholarships may consist of different requirements.
In order for a student to utilize a loan, Scott said one must complete entrance counseling and a master promissory note. She said a student who has accepted a loan and has not completed one of the steps will get an email.
For scholarships, students may face different obstacles than applying for a loan.
Christy Rosson, director of the Tech Scholarships department, said some requirements for financial aid need to be completed to be awarded for certain scholarships.
“A lot of our funding is also need based,” she said. “So, they need to make sure that they have completed their FAFSA and they have done expected enrollment for the year, so we can document financial need in order to award those scholarships.”
During the summer, Rosson said the department is willing to help students with any issues regarding scholarships and tries to limit the requirements they need to complete.
“If there are requirements, we’ll certainly communicate those through their Texas Tech email,” Rosson said regarding summer requirements. “We run reports every day to look at enrollment hours, and then we actually accept those scholarships at the university level.”
If a student wants to seek other scholarship opportunities related to their degree program, Rosson said individual colleges at Tech work differently than the university.
“Colleges and departments offer their own scholarships during the summer,” she said. “I would encourage students to just check in and ask them if they will have funding available.”
Regardless of ways students can receive financial aid, one may also consider ways to keep informed of any important updates.
Nicole Suter, adviser at SFAS, said email is the main method Tech Financial Aid will try to get in contact with students or remind them of certain requirements.
“Even when you go home for summer, just checking your email,” she said. “Even if it’s once a day or once every other day, just checking it to make sure not just financial aid but everyone across campus isn’t trying to contact you.”
Aside from one’s Tech email, Suter said social media is another forum where students are getting information about financial aid.
“What we’re also realizing is that people are messaging us on there,” she said. “We have a team that is also monitoring that, so we can get back to them in a timely manner.”
Even though social media is benefitting the communication between students and Tech Financial Aid, Suter said she still encourages students to contact the office directly.
Regardless of the variety of ways one can connect with and receive information from the financial aid office on campus, some students during the summer semester may not consider the preparations necessary to get the most out of their financial aid opportunities.
Keeping up with information the office releases and checking in with the office to notify them of any requirement changes are just a few ways Suter said students will be more prepared during the summer.
For more information about financial aid or scholarships, visit http://www.depts.ttu.edu/financialaid/.