It isn’t long into their high school careers that students start to receive letters from colleges about financial aid. For many parents and students, the entire process - determining which grants and loans they are eligible for, obtaining a tax return and transcript and filling out the necessary paperwork - can be extremely stressful, especially if they are not familiar with the steps that are required.
That’s where Director of Undergraduate Admissions Kristen English is stepping in. English will give a presentation about financial aid at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School commons area for parents of junior and senior high school students.
Kapaun’s Financial Aid Night allows parents to receive vital information about the world of financial aid. The session covers topics such as how to help their child to apply, the types of financial aid, and the timeline families have to complete their student’s Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
Newman Admissions Counselor Georgia Drewes, who works with all Kapaun students, will be with English at the event. “We present on behalf of everyone in the Financial Aid Office and Admissions,” English said. “We provide additional resources for students and do presentations regularly in schools where we have established good relationships.”
In addition to discussing the changes of financial aid for this particular year, the presenters will explain how the federal and state governments decide who qualifies for aid, how individual colleges determine who qualifies for aid in each college, and helpful information to keep in mind when applying to other colleges that work differently.
“The number one service that financial aid offices can provide - even more than assisting with the college search process - is to help parents and students understand the process of applying for and receiving financial aid,” English said. “This can be an overwhelming time for students and their families, but we have a special responsibility to making navigating everything a little easier, so we are hopeful that we are helpful resources to the students.”
There are many sources of aid that are available that most parents do not have on their radar, such as outside scholarships and need-based grants that a student does not necessarily have to qualify for in order to receive. This is why it is important to inform parents and students about the financial aid process, English said. “All they want is for someone to break it down for them,” said English. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping these individuals in such a stressful time.”
Newman University has given presentations at Kapaun, Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, Cheney High School, Collegiate High School and Garden Plain High School in previous years. This year, representatives from Newman will be helping parents and students to complete their FAFSAs at Wichita South High School, said Financial Aid Counselor Kara Schwinn.
While most people do not learn about these facts until they are in their mid- to late-20s, financial literacy and learning about loan debt are each hugely important, English said. In 2013, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling shared that “...a full 40% of U.S. adults gave themselves a grade of C, D or F when asked to grade themselves on their knowledge of personal finance.”
Below are the top three financial aid tips from Kristen English that are crucial for all students and parents to know:
- “Be aware of the process itself. It is OK if parents prefer to take the lead on applying for and sorting out financial aid, however it is very important that they show their student every step of the way. There are times when students don’t even know how much they have borrowed and are overwhelmed with the process, which is a very tight spot to be in. Educating students and parents about the process can help [to be less intimidating].”
- “Ask questions when you have them.”
- “Use the resources at hand. Students and parents can go to the high school or university counselors for help learning about what options are available. Newman is a smaller school, meaning there is a much smaller population than on other campuses. The Financial Aid Office actively sits down with every student to review financial aid packets, which is not necessarily a service that students will get elsewhere.”