Every student at Lorain County Community College knows that to attain a college education they’re going to have to find a way to pay for it. Whether it’s through loans or scholarship, education isn’t free for most college students. Despite the rising cost of post secondary education, a college degree can be paid for through various means. According to College Board, “in 2014-15, about two-thirds of full-time students paid for college with the help of financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships.” Lorain County Community College echoes those statistics with 70% of its students receiving some form of financial aid. One of the most accessible sources of information on the matter is LCCC’s financial services office.
“We like to view the financial aid department as the gateway to students reaching their dreams of earning a higher education,” said Karen Tijanich, manager of LCCC’s financial services staff. Throughout the years LCCC’s financial services office has seen a multitude of students with a variety of different circumstances. A large portion of LCCC’s student population are considered to be non-traditional, and may need to take care of their families as well as themselves while earning a degree.
“So they not only need to pay their tuition, but in books and fees, but they also need to sometimes pay rent, take care of their own children,” acknowledges Tijanich.
The first thing Tijanich recommends to all students looking to receive financial aid is to fill out the Free Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) months before the start of the semester. This allows the office much needed time to process the application and work with the government to determine how much each student can receive in aid. Once the form is sent, financial services helps students to meet requirements like filling out paperwork and sending transcripts. The process for meeting the requirements set by the Federal Government can be lengthy and will prompt students to visit other departments in order to get them completed.
“It can be very confusing and very emotional and scary for a lot of students so we try to make that transition a little bit easier by helping them through all the paperwork and just making them aware of what opportunities there are,” said Tijanich. As an extra measure of assistance, the Financial Services office is equipped to help students through how to fill out their FAFSA.
Once, the FAFSA and paperwork has been processed they can walk students through their options. Even though it appears to be a great deal of effort, it opens up a lot of doors allowing there to be “a lot of ways to pay for college,” Tajanich stated.
Types of Federal Grants
Despite the multitude of methods she considers some forms of financial aid better than others.
“So, there is Federal Aid, that breaks down into grants which are the best kind of aid because you don’t need to pay them back,” said Tijanich.
“Approximately 57 percent of financial aid dollars awarded to undergraduates was in the form of grants, and 34 percent took the form of federal loans,” said College Board.
The Federal Pell Grant is given to students who have yet to obtain a bachelor’s degree and occasionally to students enrolled in the post baccalaureate teacher certification program. The grant is available for the equivalent of 12 semesters. “The maximum Federal Pell Grant award for the 2016-2017 award year is $5,185; however, the actual award depends on the student’s financial need, the college’s cost of attendance, the student’s enrollment status, and the length of the academic year in which the student is enrolled,” according to fafsa.ed.gov.
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education is a grant for students aiming to teach in schools that educate limited income families. While grants usually don’t have to be paid back, Should the recipient fail to carry out the requirements, they may be forced to do so.
The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants are available to undergraduate students who have been determined to have exceptional financial need. The sum-received depends upon the financial needs of the student as well their college’s obtainable financial aid.
Lastly, the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants are accessible to students who have lost a parent or guardian in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11 2011 while in service to their country as a member of the Armed Forces.
Another source of aid can be found in The Federal Work-Study Program, which allows students to draw an income by working part time in their career-related field, while earning a degree.
At LCCC students must be enrolled in at least six credit hours to be eligible for loans. During the fifth and tenth week of the semester loans are disbursed, with the first based on attendance and the second on midterm grades.
As of 2010 a new federal law, The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, demands that all universities and colleges must take part in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program for new federal student loans. This type of loan allows student to borrow directly from the Federal government through their college. Types of loans involved are Federal Unsubsidized Loan, Federal Stafford Loan, and PLUS Loan, the Parental Loan to Undergraduate Student. Students are expected to begin payment on theses loans six months after they are no longer going to school for at least half time.
The second type of loan is the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program, which is designed for the parents of eligible students to borrow Federal Loan money to finance their child’s college education. To qualify, the student must be dependent on the borrower who is there biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian.
“While the Federal PLUS loan program has no annual or cumulative borrowing maximums, eligible parents may not borrow more than the difference between the student s cost of attendance and all other financial aid and other resources the student will receive,” notes the Lorain County Community College’s financial aid webpage.
While much of LCCC’s financial aid is Federal, other avenues of aid come from scholarships, credit, and the State.