Freshman Jason Pinkard, an information technology major, receives financial aid, but is unaware of the various scholarships available.
“I see an academic adviser, but I have not seen a financial aid counselor about all my options,” Pinkard said. “I don’t think students are aware of the different options available.”
This is the case for many Youngstown State University students, which is why the YSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships hosts an annual Financial Aid Awareness Week in Kilcawley Center. This week marks its 16th year.
Pinkard said he plans to visit the table this week to find scholarships.
“We are here to answer questions students may have when looking for aid,” said financial aid counselor Jennifer Tomerlin. “Brochures are available telling students how to apply for scholarships that apply to each of the various majors.”
According to a report in The Economist, the government has changed regulations on federal financial aid to help borrowers who are struggling to pay back loans.
Former President Lyndon Johnson originally set up financial aid in 1965, but regulations have been adjusted over the past several years to better serve students.
For instance, federal aid will no longer cover classes taken a third time.
Gina McHenry, associate director in the financial aid and scholarships office, said she feels that the federal government’s new regulations are necessary.
“The federal government has taken a firmer stance while holding students to a higher standard in education.” McHenry said. “It’s encouraging students to do better and not drop classes that they have already signed up for.”
McHenry added that she hopes the awareness will help students understand that there are a lot of ways to pay for their education without draining their wallets.
The priority deadline for students to apply for federal aid is Feb. 15, and many students receiving scholarships may need to reapply each year.
“Students need to know whether their scholarships are automatically renewable or not,” McHenry said. “Students aren’t always aware that they need to reapply for their aid.”
Students may also apply for grants that are available through the federal government. The most popular grant is the federal Pell Grant, which is available to undergraduate students. This grant is capped at $5,500 for the 2011-2012 school year.
Loans are also available for students who do not receive enough money through grants to pay for schooling. The loans come in the form of subsidized and unsubsidized. These loans do gain interest, though.
Financial Aid Awareness Week is set up so that students have a better understanding of the aid that is available. But the information given out is not exclusive to YSU.
“We are also going into the high schools so they can get an early start on looking for aid,” McHenry said. “All the information we give out can be applied to any school that they choose to go to, not just YSU.”