is currently a graduate student working on a master’s degree in organizational leadership with a concentration in public policy. The son of a single mother in Chicago said there is an abundance of financial aid resources available.
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Brown’s tips include:
“Fill out the paperwork.” Brown said the paperwork may take some time, but it is a worthwhile endeavor.
“Surf the web.” Brown went to the internet and looked at scholarship databases. They listed an unlimited amount of scholarships and narrowed some for Brown to pursue.
“Activities on campus do pay stipends.” Brown encouraged students to become involved in activities on campus that they are interested in. Then, they might be able to get paid for something they enjoy doing; being part of student government, peer ministry, the campus radio station, the campus newspaper.
“Check with financial aid for endowed scholarships.” Brown pointed out the Lewis University is very fortunate to have generous people that have established endowed scholarships for students in need. Qualifications for recipients vary, but it is worthwhile to investigate. Some include:
“Graduate students should consider a graduate assistant position.” The part-time position covers the cost of graduate school tuition. It’s an attractive benefit to those with undergraduate loans.
“Defer undergraduate loans while in graduate school.” Brown said many graduate students have the ability to defer their undergraduate loans while they are enrolled in graduate courses. It allows he student to focus on studies and not repaying loans.
“Listen to mentors on campus.” Brown expressed deep gratitude to various members of the Lewis community that extended a helping hand. In fact, he wouldn’t be pursuing a master’s degree today if it weren’t for some key people pointing out potential opportunities.
“A lot of what I was able to do was because of the community.” Brown was grateful to his friends, fellow students and church members that assisted him in adjusting to college life and seeking out ways to finance his education.
“Get involved.” Brown said one never knows where help is going to come from. A random contact with someone could result in unimaginable results.
Catie Cryder plans to graduate in December 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. The Plainfield resident commutes to classes and transferred to Lewis University in 2007. The 22-year-old student is the recipient of a Presidential Scholarship for a good grade point average and Legacy Scholarship because her mother, Nancy is an alumna.
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Cryder’s tips include:
“Talk directly with the financial aid counselors.” She said the counselors know your case personally and are aware of ways to improve your situation.
“Student loans take a long time to go through.” She recommended starting the loan process in the summer months when it is easier to fill out the paperwork.
“Faxing is the way to go.” Cryder prefers faxing over regular mail; the process is quicker than waiting for several days to check up on the paperwork.
“Do your homework.” Cryder suggested research and shop around for a good interest rate when taking a personal loan for your education.
“Be honest with yourself.” She said unrealistic expectations of taking 18 credit hours and holding down a full-time job is something that will pay the bills, but not ensure a quality education.
“Wait until your sophomore year to declare a major.” Cryder pointed out many students have to take on additional coursework to accommodate a change in major, costing more money. A delayed decision ensures lessening unnecessary courses and bills.
“Commuting isn’t always cheaper.” Cryder acknowledge that free room and board at one’s family house is always less expensive, but going it alone is not. It’s also easier to obtain financial aid for room and board at an educational institution, rather than apartment utility bills and grocery bills.
“Your parents’ income does count against you.” Cryder reminded students that the parents’ income is calculated into the financial picture as long as the student is under 25 years old. That is regardless of the parents’ actual contribution to the student’s education.
“The FAFSA hotline is helpful.” Cryder had a positive experience of speaking with a real person that provided a real solution.
Kevin Kaucher, from Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood, plans to graduate in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre. During his senior year at St. Patrick High School in Chicago, Kaucher applied and received one of the four the St. John Baptist De La Salle Scholarships awarded in 2007. The four-year full tuition scholarship covered a majority of his college expenses, however, he still pays for room & board, books, and other expenses.
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Kaucher’s tips include:
“Work in the summer.” Kaucher works as a ride operator at Six Flags in Gurnee, Ill., His earnings contribute to room and board expenses as well as books.
“Work part-time on campus.” Kaucher is not part of the Federal Work Study program, but still serves as a student worker for the aviation department; his original major was aviation. He closes the hanger, parks aircrafts, copies, charts, logs, and forms, among other tasks. He said the extra cash helps for pizza, gas money, and more.
“Get good grades because they definitely help when you apply.” He considered himself fortunate that he had a good grade point average in high school. Without it, he wouldn’t have even been able to apply for the St. John Baptist De La Salle Scholarship. Good grades opened more possibilities with financial aid.
“Prepare for the ACT and SAT. Take it seriously.” Once again, he suggested that many scholarships and financial aid opportunities are dependent upon a minimum ACT or SAT score.
“Ask if you have questions.” The Office of Financial Aid has a handful of people available to help students obtain the most resources available, but they can’t help someone unless they acknowledge they need assistance.
“Talk to other college students.” Navigating the financial aid process as well as other parts of college is tough. He encouraged new students to talk to people they already know that are in college to find out how they do it.
“Have realistic expectations.” After discussing with other college students how much things really cost, analyze your own needs and ensure you have budgeted for the regular shopping trip, habitual dining out, or consistent entertainment expenses.
“Step outside of your shell.” Shyness and confusion is understandable, but push beyond it to discover the exciting new world that awaits, said Kaucher.