By Amanda Edwards
Editor’s Note: The print version and an earlier online version of this article stated that CCM fall scholarship applications are due in July and applications for spring are due in November. However, those are the months the scholarships are awarded. The scholarships are due in May for fall and October for spring. The current version of this article reflects that.
In order order to combat the high cost of education, students should avail themselves of the loans and grants available to them, according to Harvey Willis, director of the Financial Aid Office at CCM.
Students can receive federal loans and grants through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov that can help offset the cost of their education
However, many students fail to consider this reality and are left sorely disappointed when they realize that they can’t enroll, according to Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Management.
Simmons said that 55 percent of the 7200 degree seeking students at CCM use financial aid. However, many students in need are not a part of this percentage.
“The problem is that financial aid is not sought after, it’s an afterthought, usually when the bills are due, as quite a few students are under the impression that county colleges are free, despite the advertised cost of education,” Willis said.
Since most aid is contingent upon need eligibility, students must first complete the FAFSA. This application becomes available on Oct. 1 of every year. It is a relatively short, electronic application that may take an average 30 minutes. After applications are received, the Financial Aid Office reviews each student’s credentials to determine aid eligibility.
According to a flyer from financial aid, “This year, the Financial Aid Office conducted a series of FAFSA filing sessions to assist students in submitting the 2018-2019 FAFSA.”Though these days have passed, students may visit the Financial Aid Office at the Student Community Center for more information.
Several variables are considered to determine any one student’s eligibility. These range from income to number of family members to assets. However, the list is extensive, and the process is unique for every student. Make sure to consider all of your factors while completing your application.
“Students should allow an average of 21 business days for processing,” Willis said. “While sometimes students receive an update within three to four days of submitting FAFSA, other students may be selected to submit additional documents. Since this is only a process of verification, aid will be processed in short order if students submit the documents in a timely fashion.”
Willis has pointed out that FAFSA is only a government application and it is the Financial Aid Office and New Jersey State Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), which reviews the results for aid determination and awarding. However, students often misunderstand this fact. Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to periodically view their financial aid eligibility online through WebAdvisor or Titans Direct as funding may change due to changes in credits total and or type of courses registered for each term.
Financial assistance at CCM exists in the form of federal and state aid and student loans. Additionally, the CCM Foundation awards more than $200 thousand in scholarships to qualified students every year. These grants may be merit or need- based. To apply, students must submit an online application through the CCM website. Applications are due by Thursday, May 31 for the fall semester and Monday, Oct. 22 for the spring semester.
“Everyone deserves an education, not only for self-help but to be a viable contribution to society,” Willis said. “However, since education comes with a cost, students need to know their financial options to move forward. I encourage them to complete the FAFSA, even if they don’t think they are eligible. In addition, they should periodically view their financial aid status online.”