Financial Aide for the new year

Laura M. Conrad

Assistant Editor

With a new year comes new worries: applying for the next school year's financial aid. So what can one do to lessen these financial aid process woes?
Mr. Bob Womack, the Director of Financial Aid at Wayland, has been in financial aid for more than eighteen years, and has several suggestions.
The biggest concern is the Federal Application for Financial Student Aid, or the FAFSA. The FAFSA is required by the federal government, and is necessary before the government or the school can award financial aid to anyone. There aren't any exceptions. In order to complete the FAFSA, one must have all federal income tax information, including W-2's or W-4's. This is because the FAFSA requires income information to determine whether one qualifies for aid. The government starts accepting the FAFSA on January 1 of the new year, and the application is available either online or on paper.
"The biggest mistake students can make is to guesstimate, and not use actual figures, or they fail to show their income," Mr. Womack said. "If an application is chosen for verification, that will show up. So we have to turn it around for corrections."
Womack recommends filing the FAFSA as soon as possible, since some scholarships and funds are limited. He also said that the Office of Financial Aid is already awarding scholarships and aid for next year.
There are literally hundreds of scholarships, grants, and loans that are awarded each year, and the requirements to renew the aid varies according to the stipulations of the fund. They generally range from GPA, to academic progress, to church attendance, to character, ability, or talent. The Pioneer is one scholarship that doesn't have to be renewed, as long as the recipient meets the criteria. Most others have to be renewed each year or each semester. While there are many different funds, Womack said that Financial Aid generally uses all of it.
"We strive to give that money out," Womack said. "That's what the donors wanted, so if we can find somebody who matches the requirements, then we give those out."
Departments also have their own scholarships. Music, athletic, and many other departments award scholarships according to talent and ability each year. These awards are then added to the student's financial aid package.
Because renewal requirements vary according to source for financial aid, Mr. Womack recommends checking on each of the awards you received this year to insure that you follow all of the renewal guidelines. This includes outside gifts. Some require official transcripts, filling out new forms, or other specific stipulations.
"If a person is in doubt, or want to know if they qualify for more financial help," Mr. Womack offered, "they're welcome to come into the financial aid office, and talk to Perri McDonald, our scholarship coordinator, and she will look and see if they have need. Then, if they match the prerequisites for some of our scholarships, we'll try to help in any way we can."
If you have questions about the FAFSA or renewing your financial aid, contact the Office of Financial Aid, at 291-3520.