SECURE THE BAG: Financial aid got you in a quandary?
Opinion

SECURE THE BAG: Financial aid got you in a quandary?

By: Bria Clark (@autobriagraphy)

 

Financial aid packages exist to close the gap between what your family (you) can afford and the total cost of tuition and fees. The frustration of trying to create the optimal funding mix can take away from the blessing of furthering your education. Nevertheless, financial aid can be a gift if you learn how it works.

Grants and scholarships are conditional gifts awarded to students that don’t have to be paid back. The eligibility criteria for most of these awards is based on your previous semester(s) performance; so, keep that GPA, service activity, or relationship going to ensure you don’t come up lacking when the requirements are released. Another thing, most grant programs are kicked-off around the same time each year, so create a scholarship/grant calendar to note what upcoming opportunities are coming down the pipeline.

The next batch of aid can be summed up with three letters, J.O.B. The key factor to remember with this form of aid is “First Come, First Serve”. Visit the Student Support Services (TRIO) office or the Office of Career Services to get leads on community resources and internship opportunities. Inquire about federally funded work opportunities available through the Howard University Student Employment Program (HUSEP /Work Study) by visiting the A-building; and if all else fails, resort to entrepreneurship. Starting a business on campus is simple; whether you’re styling hair, tailoring clothes, or selling cookies, print up some flyers and post statuses about your work on social media platforms. Eventually, something will stick.

The last form of aid tends to be the largest and often the most burdensome, loans. Federal and state loans are often presented as subsidized or unsubsidized packages. With an unsubsidized loan, the moment the funds are disbursed to your student account, interest begins to be charged against the principal balance. Contrarily, subsidized loans don’t begin charging interest until after you depart from the University. With each loan, there is a six month “grace period” before repayment begins, which is about 26 weeks after you finish school.

Heighten your chances of being selected for a monetary award by networking with professors, fellow students, and neighborhood acquaintances; they may have the inside scoop on obtaining book scholarships or give you a heads-up on an upcoming research grant. Alternatively, if you’ve got the talent or time to provide a service to your community, market yourself. Look for opportunities to jumpstart your loan repayment plan, so you can lower the cost of your loan or potentially, graduate debt-free. From now until graduation, put yourself on a mission to obtain the optimal mix of financial-aid. When it comes to your financial aid remember, RAKE-IT-UP!

October 10, 2017

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