Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Android | iHeartRadio | Stitcher | Podchaser | Email | Deezer | RSS
In today’s episode, I had the honor to interview Ms. Susan Tripp, Director of Financial Aid emeritus from Herkimer College. Also appearing on the episode is Ms. Deb Sutliff, Bursar Emeritus at Herkimer college as well. I had the absolute pleasure and honor to work directly with Deb and Sue at Herkimer College and saw firsthand the care and concern they provided to individual students, and it was just unparalleled. Their baseline was beyond the best that I’ve seen in my career and was simply a part of the fabric of who they are.
I want to mention to you that this episode will not cover all that is paying for college, I intend to have future episodes dedicated to this critical and complex topic.
[00:56] Introducing today’s guests to the show
[03:30] Deb’s and Sue’s roles in helping students be college-ready
[06:15] What all parents should know about high school to college transition
[12:03] Taking advantage of the local community college
[13:10] What is financial aid and how can students apply for it?
[16:09] The financial aid application process
[20:30] Stigma around the FAFSA
[25:46] When to file for the FAFSA
[27:18] Looking into the financial aid letter
[34:32] Common mistakes students and parents make related to FAFSA packages
[39:19] What role should financial aid play in a student’s decision to apply to a school vs another school?
[43:21] Justin’s 5 takeaways from the episode
Five things I learned from my talk with Deb & Sue!
1. Begin to learn about the financial aid process with your student prior to attending college! This will make the process much less stressful when it’s time to actually apply for financial aid. There is a wealth of resources available including your high school guidance counselor, admissions representatives that visit your high school, or contact your local community college bursar and financial aid offices to learn more about financial aid programs and workshops they may provide. They may also have staff and services available to help you navigate the process.
2. Do not be quick to dismiss your local community college. There are potential monetary savings, similar general education courses are offered in the first two-years at both a community college and four-year institution, and some of the community college faculty may even work in the field they are teaching.
3. To apply for federal financial aid students must fill out the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid annually. This means every year a student is attending or considering attending a college. Filing the FAFSA will determine a student’s eligibility for grants, loans, and work-study. Individual states may offer financial aid as well, please visit your state education department website to see if your state offers financial aid.
4. After a student completes the FAFSA and supplies any supplemental information required by a respective campus in a timely fashion. The campus will send the student a financial aid award letter. Some awards are given to the student such as grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships generally don’t need to be repaid. Some awards are offered to the student such as loans. There are limits to how much a student can borrow. Also, students can borrow less than what they are offered. If there’s a difference between how much financial aid is offered and the cost of attendance, it is up to the student and their family to determine how to pay this expense.
5. There is a difference between the financial aid award package and the bill a student receives from a respective campus. The financial aid package is based on average costs of items such as room and board and indirect costs. The bill reflects actual costs charged to the student.
Future College Parent Podcast website: https://www.futurecollegeparent.com/
Future College Parent Network: The Future College Parent Network is here for you to post what you learned by listening to this episode and engage with other listeners so we can learn together! Please join at: www.facebook.com/groups/futurecollegeparentnetwork/
Listen to episodes on https://www.futurecollegeparent.com/: Please share the podcast widely with other parents, leaders of activities your student is involved in, and your school administrators so they can share with your school district. You can also let parents know the show is streaming directly from the website and there is no need to download anything! The show is also on your favorite podcast platforms as well.
Parent Action Plan!: Parents can download the action plan document to actively engage with their student, secondary, and post-secondary professionals to help their student prepare, chose and finance college.
Lesson Plan & Worksheet: Leaders of activities your student is involved in, and your school administrators can download the Lesson Plan and Worksheet for this episode to help teach all Future College Parents the content of this podcast episode.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid: https://studentaid.gov/
New York State Higher Education Services Corporation: https://www.hesc.ny.gov/
Justin Alger 00:18
Deb and Sue OMG. Welcome to the future college parent Podcast. I’m so excited that you’re here with me on the show. This is the fifth episode in our six-episode premiere. Thanks for being on the show.
Deb Sutliff 03:21
Sue Tripp 03:22
Deb Sutliff 03:22
I’m happy to be here.
Justin Alger 03:23
So first, if you could, and you can go in order that you want. But if you, can you please share your role and describe in what capacity you support students and parents through the college journey.
Deb Sutliff 03:39
Alright, I can start. So, Justin is the former Bursar, who’s still working a little bit part time, my role has been in trying to make sure that students and families could understand the bill. So, our office took an active role in trying to make sure that students were well aware of the costs associated with college, both for those commuting students as we are Community College. And for those who would be living on campus because there is a wide discrepancy in terms of how much a family would have to pay if the student was commuting, you know, coming from the local area to drive up the hill to our campus, or if they were living in one of our campus housing facilities. Because in that case that they were doing that that would be much more like a four-year institution for a student who was coming from a distance away, say to reside on campus. So, we wanted to make sure that we had payment plans available that we have very clear and accurate information on our website. And non-COVID times we gave a lot of in person presentations at orientation events, open houses, registration nights or weekends. When we had a presence always to make sure that families were very comfortable and knowing how they were going to pay their bill.
Justin Alger 04:56
It’s fantastic so a Bursar on campus is the person or the office that collects the bills.
Sue Tripp 05:04
Justin Alger 05:04
Well, good Sue?
Deb Sutliff 05:05
My role is to make sure that students and families are aware of all the financial aid programs that are available to them for to take care of any of the college costs. You know, we are stewards of tax dollar monies. So, we have many compliance regulations that we are under, and we want to expend everything that was offered to the institution to award to our students. So, you know, in our office, we do a lot of administrative work, but our other half 50% is making sure that families and students understand all the regulations and understand what aid that’s out there available to students. And so, the key is to help students to help them with whatever we can that’s available to them to offset college costs, which is not decreasing. It’s, it’s rising and rising. And you know, and funding is, is there, but it is limited. So that information needs to go out so that they’re prepared, and how to take care of college costs.
Justin Alger 06:11
Okay, wonderful. Thanks for providing that overview. Can you share with us what is an important lesson or piece of advice about the transition from high school to college, that you think all parents should know?
Deb Sutliff 06:22
You know, with high school, you know, parents were quite involved, and believe it or not, probably did a lot of stuff for students. And when you enter college, you know, depending on what the government considers that person as an adult, and expects a lot from the students and not, you know, actually having too much of what their parents do for them. So, our responsibility is to make sure that students really understand a lot of the rules and regulations. Parents sometimes like to be helicopter parents, but the department doesn’t sometimes allow the parents to be involved in certain those, you know, situations. So, you know, the kids have to step up and start learning and understanding and a lot of 18 year old’s, Mom and Dad did all of that stuff, you know, and so now, this is our job, to make sure that the students understand what types of aid that are receiving, whether they’re receiving the student loan, the repayment, so many rules and regulations that it can be very daunting for them. And that’s what we’re here for. However, you know, staffing at every institution is limited, based on the number of students that come in, a lot of things are done online, you know, at our institution, we are still very hands on, we’re known for our customer care, in doing that, and I would always reach out, you know, tell parents and students to reach out to the colleges, see if they can make the appointment to come in and actually talk to someone regarding all their concerns. It’s not something that can be done for every parent, but that would be my wish to do that. And at Herkimer, whether the student attends here or not, you know, as a community college for our community, we do that for everyone. Whether you’re planning on attending here now or not, we can give the same type of advice for them so that they’re prepared on what they need to do.
Justin Alger 08:19
So, you’re so you’re suggesting that you’d prefer to interact with students when they’re on campus, but had that learning take place, about the college financial aid process prior to prior to come into campus?
Deb Sutliff 08:32
Absolutely. I mean, you know, financial aid can be very daunting. But we’re here to make it simple. And you know, the government in a couple of years, they’re going to actually simplify it even more. And they understand that as myself as a first-generation student, parent, my parents didn’t speak English very well. You know, it can be very daunting, and you need someone to come and, you know, help them and guide them. And I and that that happened for me. I had older siblings that had that helped me but also the, you know, the financial aid office, it all depends on, you know how well they’re going to welcome you and explain all of that. And we do that here at Herkimer. And I think we do that very well, you know, when parents and students leave our office, or they say, oh, I understand it now, that makes me feel good. And this is what I try to preach to our staff, that we need to take the time to explain all the details, or at least get to the you know, to the direct points of what all of these processes are so they understand. I would echo a lot of what Sue said, Certainly it is a change, I think transition from high school to college and that students should, even if they’re not thinking that they should, but they should start to take responsibility in terms of knowing the terms of financial aid, how they’re going to pay their bill and trying to get comfortable with that whole I think set of regulations. In terms of what’s required from them, I think that if they become familiar, it’s much less stressful. I also think that students in high school shouldn’t be very quick to dismiss their home community college, because that’s certainly where they’re going to find the best deal monetarily and financially for their family, but also in terms of thinking that the first two years of college are mainly spent trying to get a lot of the general classes out of the way. So, taking an English one or taking something that’s a general requirement is probably going to be the same type. Of course, they may take at a private college or at their four-year college or university that they might be looking to get their baccalaureate degree from. So certainly, give consideration to your local community college, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The faculty are top notch, you know, that’s another thing that Sue and I have found working here all these years is that you typically work with a very distinguished faculty at a community college level, you know, some have a lot of experience in their field. You know, many are teaching full time, but many are teaching on an annual basis in addition to the jobs that they do, most often in the field in which they’re teaching. So, I think sometimes students and families are quick to potentially dismiss their home community college, but I think that they should give a lot more thought and preparation into where they want to do their first two years of school.
Justin Alger 11:29
So, Deb, your advice is to don’t overlook your local community college. I think a lot of times, I think there’s the perception that because the institution offers open enrollment, that the academic quality or the academic rigor is somehow may somehow be compromised. But you’re suggesting that that’s not necessarily the case. And by the way, the logic behind open enrollment is to educate the public, and it’s, and it’s for the public good. So. And then also, your, your point was to make sure both of you suggested that you should take advantage of your local community college, or your local college, the programs and services that they that they provide, because you certainly provide services at Herkimer. To help students regardless of what institution they’re that they’re going to attend, to help them understand and navigate this financial aid process
Deb Sutliff 12:27
Coming, Justin coming to a community college is a big savings under the financial aid, especially when a student, you know, is undecided as far as what they want to do. And so, they should check with your community college have very many articulation agreements with some of the other institutions where you know, your first two years you can get your feet wet, and you can get those courses all transferable to your four-year institution. So, your savings is close to be at home. And then in case you know, the student at a community college is usually you know, a whole bunch of different programs that the student can get there. They can try it out and so forth before they make that decision without having the higher cost at some of the other universities to do that.
Justin Alger 13:10
Okay, so I’m going to shift gears and move into some expertise focused questions. Deb, tell me what financial aid is and how do students and parents file for financial aid.
Deb Sutliff 13:22
As I mentioned earlier, financial aid packages actually consist of loans in grants. The process even for a student who is only eligible for student loans has to file that FAFSA. And again, that’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, has to do that year when they file that FAFSA, that will determine their eligibility for grants and or loans. And some of the common grant is the Federal Pell Grant doing the FAFSA yearly will determine the student’s eligibility for grants like the Pell Grant and for federal student loans as well as campus basting, which is a limited amount of an allocation that a college gets where we can distribute aid such as college work study, or another grant called supplemental educational opportunity grant, s. E. O G, for sure. So those are the basic types of financial aid that a student would be eligible for under the FAFSA filing the FAFSA, and again, that’s a yearly process. Students may also be eligible for scholarships that come from their high schools, or from there you know, even doing some research in the area. I another recommendation I would highly make is that a student in their junior year probably in high school would check with their local guidance offices in their high schools to see what scholarships may be available that they need to write a separate essay or do an application for. Sometimes places like the American Legion or the Rotary Club, or student’s employer might have scholarship or pair Yeah, students, family’s employer might have scholarships eligible, you know, for dependent children. And then many community colleges will have special scholarships for students who are at the top of their class. So, for example, our college has a scholarship that would cover full tuition for students in their first year, if they graduate in the top 10% of their high school class, or I’m sorry, the top 15%, we want to edit that to the top 15% of their high school class. And then in the second year, we pay 50% of their tuition. So, it’s good to look into programs like that student are enrolled at a college also, there may be more scholarship opportunities for their following years. So, we have a process where students could apply through an application a one-page application for scholarships in their second year, and some of that they could take with them to their baccalaureate college for their four-year degree. So, things like that are all good things to keep in mind for students as they’re navigating their billing in their financial aid.
Justin Alger 16:09
So, when I apply for financial aid, I fill out the FAFSA. And then that information is populated at the at the campus level. And that determines what type of loans and grants that someone is eligible for?
Deb Sutliff 16:26
That is correct, Justin, you know, that is specific for, you know, her comer and, of course, many other institutions. But for in general for the nation, you know, students really, you know, for where they want to plan on going, they need to first go to those colleges’ websites, which have plenty of information out there regarding what they need to do to file for financial aid. So, in general, the FAFSA which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid is one that if a student would like to see if they’re eligible for that Federal Pell Grant, which is that is a form to complete. And most schools use the FAFSA information to determine what institutional aid that may be awarded to the student, in addition to any loan eligibility that the student is going to receive, and any internal scholarships. Some schools may use that information that’s on there to determine the type of scholarships but there are other schools that may require their own institutional application on top of the FAFSA. And then there are certain schools that use the CSS Profile form, those are very limited, but that’s the college scholarship service form. So, it’s very important depending on where the student is going, that they need to do the research ahead to look on the College website. Absolutely. You know, in admissions, I’m sure that they will say, you know, if you’re filing for financial aid, these are the required forms for this institution. So, a FAFSA may not be for every institution, so they need to new do their research ahead of time. So they have their plan I used to do and tell parents that put a little sheet of paper you have, you know, six or seven schools, you’re thinking of reach out to all those seven schools go to their websites, find out what the deadlines for every school, every school may have a different deadline to, for you to get your information in on time to be considered for everything available. You know, this is not unlimited funds, there are limited funds. So that’s why you need to file early on what the deadlines are. In addition, we’ve been talking about federal aid and institutional aid, but there’s also state aid. Okay, so if you’re a New York State resident, there’s another avenue of financial aid that the student can apply for, and that’s the, you know, New York state award payment application, which was called the tap application. So not every state has state a so what’s nice about New York, they do have one of their own, and that’s part of the FAFSA, that they will give the student the availability based on what they answer on what state they live in, a flag will come up a question will come up to alert them to say, you know, you have the ability to file your New York State tap application and at the end of this app of filling out this application will take you to that link. So, it’s like a one stop as long as the student sees it, they can click on that link, and it will forward them right to the New York State tab application for them to complete. And you know, New York State has also many other scholarships that they offer. One of the newest ones which is now going on four years old is the Excelsior scholarship. That was out that came about and it was geared for a lot of our middle-income families which is really nice that they get a little bit of help where they middle income families typically don’t get, you know, a lot of financial aid some but this is geared for specifically for that group of families. So, it’s certainly something that you know, they need to do to make sure that they’ve reached out to all different avenues when they’re applying for college expenses?
Justin Alger 20:06
So as a follow up, why is it that you think that, that parents are apprehensive? Or they’re nervous, or they’re excited about filling out the FAFSA? Is it because they have to enter in their tax information? Is it because they’re afraid of what the results might be? Why do you think that there? Why What do you think that there’s this sort of stigma around filling out the FAFSA?
Deb Sutliff 20:32
I think it’s because you know, when someone It’s like someone says, well, you got to do your tax return, oh, I don’t know how to do texture, you know, has numbers and so forth. So, they are they, it’s daunting for a lot of the questions that are being asked, and they’re really not the FAFSA now has, you know, has checks and checks and balances as far as I’m not used? I’m not sure if I’m using the right word, not balances. But you know, the paper FAFSA when I remember had over 100 questions, and every question had to be answered. So yes, it could be daunting. Alright, but now with everything is done online, based on the things that you answer, you’re going to skip 20 questions. And so, you know, a family may only be completing, instead of 100 questions, they could only be completing now 30 questions. And soon and you know, the year 2324, it’s going to be as simple as less than 30 questions are going to be asked. So that would be in the year that I wish came this year, that I think that it’s going to make it a lot easier, because the Department of Education realizes how it can be daunting, and how it can be intimidating for families to fill it out. So yes, the information is requiring tax information, because that is a big part of financial aid, whether or not the family income, can you know, help with your own students going to college? I mean, I tell families all the time, that when you know, when you’re coming to college, we’re looking at what is you as a family, you know, you’re very, you’re the very first resource, what is you as a family going to help with your son and daughter going to college, we’re here to supplement, but it one comes from you first. And it’s and based on income information, the department may say, I don’t expect anything from you, okay, because of your family situation already that, that, you know, you need what you’re receiving to take care of just normal household duties, and you’re not able to help with those expenses. And that comes out from the FAFSA. Okay, and many times rarely goes, well, where are they coming up with some of these figures of where they think that this is out what we can help with? Well, this is a federal methodology that Congress have come up and every question on the FAFSA has a formula in there that what they were going to come out with, as far as what they feel that a family can help with your son and daughter going to school. And they take everything into consideration depending on even the state that you live in, you know, you can live in a state like New York that has high taxes, and you can live in another state that doesn’t have high taxes. So, your family income is more protected, or you have more availability to use, you know, example, I always say is household size, you know, a family can make exactly the same income as your neighbor. Okay, but if your household size is six, and that household size is three, okay? The person that is a household size of three has more availability to help that student go to college, where a household size of six, there is more of that income to be used for living. Okay, and so far, so all of those things are factors, okay, your asset information, how many go into college, if you have three in your household going to college versus someone that’s only one going to college? Well, there’s a difference, it’s going to cost that family more. Okay, so your financial aid changes, we’re doing that. So, it has a lot of factors that go in there. Okay, and doing that, and I think there are some families that don’t want to give that information out. You know, regarding you know, do I have to fill out your FAFSA, and that’s part of the requirement, you know, the department needs to see that they need to, to come up with their answers based on the federal methodology so that they know to be fair across the board on what they can offer students and this is what we’re here for, to make it more simpler to explain it. They just need to make that part and doing the first step in trying to get to us to do that. And there are avenues giving the college a call going to your local high schools, look at when there’s going to be workshops. We work very closely with Herkimer guidance counselors here. They invite us to do workshops, we invite them up here. We invite all of our Herkimer guidance counselors to come up. And then we, there, I’m invited in to tell them all the new and important things that are happening in financial aid, because the high school students are typically going right to their high school guidance counselors. And so, you know, you have to have a good rapport with your guidance counselors, because they’re going to be the people that are going to advocate for our institution and other institutions to, so we work very closely with them. And we appreciate them. You know, they if they can answer we sometimes we also do a little tutorial for them. So, you know, they so they know the basics of the fastest, they can answer the simple questions. But we’re always on a phone call away, I get calls all the time from guidance counselors say, Sue, you know, we have this special circumstance, how can you help us? And we do that?
Justin Alger 25:44
How, how soon should I file for financial aid? When is that when is the financial the FAFSA form due?
Deb Sutliff 25:52
October one of every year is when it’s available for students to file their FAFSA for the school year. So, example for this October coming up. And like our freshmen coming in, starting in September, right, they’re coming in, in one month, they’ve only been here one month, the FAFSA is available for them to complete for their sophomore year. Now, your way I just started school, I only been in school, not even a few weeks. Okay, and now your FAFSA is available to apply for the following year, because that income information is there. But you want to get that information early because of limited funding. Okay, especially with any institutional money that’s being offered to the student. As Deb mentioned, they’re called campus-based aid. Okay, they’re limited. And so, if you fall very late, you may have qualified for that aid. But the funds have already been distributed. We don’t want to keep anything, right, we want to use all the money that’s given to us to give to our students. So, it is important that they file early. And this is the opportunity that they can find almost a year early for them for that for that year.
Justin Alger 27:01
Wonderful. So, file starting October 1 And as soon as possible, and then check your institutions specific financial aid process, because there may be an application that you need to file at the at the institution level as well. Correct. So once, once I’ve filled out the FAFSA, I’m coming to Herkimer, and I get a financial aid letter. What does that look like? What are the key terms? What am I looking at when I’m looking at a financial aid letter?
Deb Sutliff 27:31
So, when you receive a financial aid letter in a Herkimer, we try to send our award notice, okay, sometime in April, okay, we normally started doing that, at that point, that also means that the student has gone through anything that the institution may have requested from the student. Okay, so filling out a FAFSA is great, you have all your information in, information may go out to the student, okay, again, goes to the student. All right, and students will, you know, will be asked to turn in certain things to us. And that’s why it’s very important that they shouldn’t delay it and keep it on the dresser and just ignore it because it’s holding back their financial aid package until that information is provided so that we can verify everything works smoothly, no corrections need to be made, then an award notice will go out to the student. And again, at her, it’s usually we started around April. And doing that. As part of the financing plan, it will tell you what the cost is to attend our institution. And that will be different for every school, of course, right. So, it will give you the breakdown, tuition, fees, room board, all those would be representative there. It is important for the family to realize that this is not the bill. This is an estimated cost of attendance for the student. Okay, this is an average course we know where our tuition is. But you know, again, if you’re living in housing, if you live in a single apartment, or you’re sharing an apartment, a double room, a triple room, it’s going to be a different cost, okay? That’s where the actual billing part and student accounts will show the actual costs. But on the award letter, it’s an average, it’s given you a total and expenses include on your award letter, it will have direct expenses, and also indirect expenses. What’s the difference? Difference direct expenses is typically what shows on your bill. indirect expenses are typically things that our students will have costs with, but we’re not billing them for them. So, for example, transportation costs, personal expenses that they need to buy toiletries, and so forth. Those are indirect costs for the student, but they will incur it and those are part of the cost of attendance what you a student can receive financial aid for because that’s the total along with the student award letter. It will then show what awards the student is eligible for some of the awards are given to the student, some of the awards are going to be offered to the student and the student needs to respond. Typically, awards that are given to the student are the Federal Pell grants. So, grants, you want to see grants as much as possible on your awards, you want to see scholarships as much as possible on your wards because that is not a payback, that’s a given to you okay, in doing that, all right. So, you know, Federal Pell Grant and your say, tap grant, the supplemental education opportunity grant, yay, those are all good if you have them. Okay. And based on the college policy of what aid they have, it will be different for every school, because every school has a different pot of money that they can award to the student, the Federal Pell Grant is the same across the board, whether you attend a college that costs $60,000 a year, whether you have a school that costs $15,000 a year, your Pell Grant is across the board the same. Okay, so New York State tap, alright, which stands for tuition assistance program, which can be different because it’s based on tuition, my tuition is different from Syracuse University’s tuition, okay, and so forth. So that could be different. In addition to any of those grants, if a student qualifies for the federal work study program, that’s where the student actually works on campus. Some have we’re off campus, and it is a financial aid program, that you have to have financial need for which is all determined by the college’s policy that will also be on their award letter, they have to understand that work study earnings of the student can earn throughout their school year is not there to pay for any direct costs. Remember, I talked about that the tuition, the billing, those things are direct costs, this is more for those students, for the students, indirect costs for those other expenses, personal expenses, travel expenses, and so forth. I really enjoy that. And then lastly, scholarships are listed there, if the student was awarded any scholarships, and loans, okay, and you know, the word loan, I hopefully, you know, students know, a loan is something that they will need to repay back. And it is a financial aid program, and it will be offered to the student. And there are limits on what a student can borrow, and whatever they’re eligible for would be offered to the student. And when I say offered, that means the student has to accept if they want to borrow, and of course, you know, they certainly don’t need to borrow, they certainly can borrow less than what’s being offered to them, but they typically can’t ask more than what was already offered. Because the institution is already offering them, they’re their limit of what they can borrow. So and then, of course, um, even with all the aid that they’re eligible for, they need to realize what it would cost to attend that school, what the aid that they’re receiving, it’s, it’s sort of like simple math, okay, it cost this much to attend, this is the A that are receiving, used to tell you do the subtraction, and there, there’s still a bottom line is positive. That’s something where the family needs to make up for that, okay, make up for that amount, they can take out a parent loan, they can look at other options that are available to take to offer those expenses, but they need to remember that indirect costs are involved in there. So, it’s really not the bill. And that’s where they need to talk with our office talk to student accounts to say really, what is the bottom line of what I owe, because that’s just an average
Justin Alger 33:29
The financial aid award letter is really a listing of all the direct costs, which are tuition and fees, right, maybe housing charges as well. Indirect costs, which are costs that you transportation, if you live off campus, meals, right, these types of things. And then it also on the other side lists, the awards that you’re able to or that you’re given, those are the grants, right and potentially the scholarships from the from the institution level, and then also lists the, the loans that you are able to take out to borrow should you need. And then if there is a bottom line, that’s funds that the family or the student will have to come up with in order to settle their bill in Deb’s office. So, Sue, what are some of the common mistakes that you see students and parents make related to their financial aid packages?
Deb Sutliff 34:37
Um, well, the most common is when parents fill out an application for their student and they end up putting, you know, the parent as the student, which can cause a lot of issues and in doing that. Another common mistake is many students think that they don’t need to provide parental information and the Department of Ed Education has their rules of whether or not family information needs to be provided a mom or dad or just a dad, if the parents are divorced, and so forth. So, a lot of a lot of times, you know, you’re the FAFSA application would come in rejected or needs more clarification and doing that. So again, that’s where, you know, they need to contact the school to clear that all that information at another time. Another thing that they ask times is, you know, they, because they’re looking back two years, you know, families would say, Well, you know, why are you asked me two years ago, where right now, you know, I, especially with, you know, our pandemic, and so forth with COVID, that, you know, I, I don’t make that much money anymore, you know, I’ve lost my job, or I’ve gotten a divorce or someone passed away, or I’m retired now. And so those are not a done deal. Those are absolutely where a college professional can do a professional judgment call. And, you know, and revise and look at more current data. Because, again, as I mentioned, you know, the whole point of filling out the FAFSA is to verify information. So, they always look at a tax with for tax return, thinking that the income that was being reported is going to be the income while your student and son are coming to college. And when there isn’t that, that there’s a big discrepancy, we can make those changes. Again, another thing is that families think that they can file, you know, their application two or three days or a week or two weeks before school begins. And we will have that information all set. No, it takes time to look that information over, they need to file early to do that. So that we can give everything that it’s available to the student. And again, when they file very late, they can be missing out on that. We’ve had many students, especially at a community college, thinking that student loans are not a financial aid award. And absolutely, it is a financial aid award. Because, you know, if you typically go to a bank, how many banks are going to lend to a 17 18- or 19-year-old money? Okay, so this is where the FAFSA will determine the type of loan that the student qualify for. And again, it’s based on the family’s income, but they’re absolutely eligible for a loan, they don’t expect them to have a job prior to that before a loan is given. So, this is this is this is a great opportunity for students to use that, but they need to be absolutely sure that they know that they’re borrowing every year, it will increase. And you know, just as an FYI, you know, at any state operated campus, after four years, you know, the typical loan, if they borrow every year, they’re looking at about $28,000 in being in debt, you know, so they need to really look at their award letters, they need to make sure that what they’re borrowing that they’re able to repay that loan back. And of course, there will be information for the student to learn all about their loans in their repayments. So, a lot of those types of errors are at the beginning where our students think they’re independent, and they’re not independent, filing, you know, a couple of days before school begins knowing that they’re going to have information that doesn’t happen. There are students that are they know that they’re very needy. And they’ll sometimes I you know, have no other years, I’ve here as well, we’re very needy, I’m going to get full financial aid because we’re very needy. And I said, yes, you are very needy, but there is not enough aid out there. For institutions to give you enough aid to cover all your expenses, they’re limited, we’d love to do that. Okay, so they need to do and plan accordingly. And this is where this is where they need to look at colleges and their cost of look at their award notice, look at how much still needs to be fulfilled to take care of those costs. Look at everything they reapply for and those decisions that they’re trying to make, whether it’s going to be you know, whether or not they’re able to afford that institution.
Justin Alger 39:17
Wonderful. Thank you. Maybe Deb, you can start us off on this one. Can you tell me what role should financial aid play in a student’s decision to apply to a school versus another school?
That was probably being at the discretion of the family, you know, as they’re having a discussion as to what can they reasonably afford for their son or daughter. So, I think if a family is very needy, and they haven’t been able to put any money aside until they start the application process and the financial aid process, financial aid will indeed play a huge role in you know, in contributing to the decision for that student in year one and year two especially. So again, I think it does come down to, you know, the family’s income and ability to pay.
Justin Alger 40:06
Sue, I know you have some thoughts to share.
Deb Sutliff 40:08
Basically, you know, when you’re when a student is looking at colleges, the key is what do they want? What do they want to pursue? You know, and again, a lot of 18-year-old don’t know what they want to pursue. But if you have students who say, you know, I want to be a teacher, I want to be a doctor, I want to be an accountant. You know, and, you know, basically, we should tell students to apply to all the schools that you think you want to go to never leave anything out. But the student is saying that I just wanted to be a teacher, you could go to a school that has a teaching degree that they costs $50,000 a year, and you can go to a school that also has a teaching degree with a with a, you know, that has a good reputation that will cost $25,000 a year, you know, so you have to kind of weigh that and do that just not pick one, you got to get choices that are out there. And that’s what we tell with the FAFSA application, when they file the FAFSA, you can list as many colleges as you want on the forum. So, your information is set to all the schools. And that’s the whole reason why you file early so that those decisions can be made early the award packages can be made to be looked at. And this is where you know, the family can sit down with the student and make those important decisions.
Justin Alger 41:24
So as far as the application, financial aid shouldn’t necessarily impact the decision to apply to an institution versus another institution. But when you when it comes down to the decision making of which school to attend, then that’s when we’re really going to take a look at our finances, what school has, the fit as a good fit for us, or excuse me a good fit for the student. Depending on a variety of factors, including the major, the students should be looking at the financial aid after they’ve applied to the institution to make that decision?
Sue Tripp 42:02
And there are many schools that will send out a financial aid package even before they’re actually accepted. They will do that too to say, you know, if you plan on attending here, this is what we can offer to you. So sometimes that makes a decision of whether students plan on attending or not, and that there are certain schools that do that.
Justin Alger 42:19
And don’t let the sticker price or the posted price deter you from absolute lying for school. Right?
Deb Sutliff 42:26
Entice them with a package. But state colleges and can’t do that, unfortunately. But we’re lower cost. Yeah.
Justin Alger 42:37
Well, I think that’s all the questions that I have for you. I just It really means a lot to me that that you have taken your time to come and be guest number five of our first six-episode premiere of the future college parent podcast, I again want to wish you the only the best in your retirement. And thank you again so much for being on the show.