>> Narrator:
Welcome to Waubonsee Talks, Waubonsee Community College's online forum where we discuss important topics for your academic journey.

>> Steven Miller:
Hi, welcome Waubonsee podcast. My name is Steven Miller I'm the communications manager at Waubonsee Community College. Today we're talking about how to pay for college, and there's a lot to this. It's a big topic. So we have a couple of experts on this, and so I'll have them make introductions and then we will go into conversation. Christa.

>> Christa Kristich:
Hi, My name is Christa Kristich. I'm the financial aid manager for Waubonsee.

>> Stephanie Carreno:
My name is Stephanie Carreno. I'm the advancement associate here at the college, and most people have no idea what an advancement office does, so we manage the Foundation Scholarship Program. So essentially my job is to give away other people's money.

>> Steven Miller:
A very good thing to do. We're grateful for that. So, the cost of college is significant and is often seen as a barrier to getting started with and attending classes. But there are resources available to help with the cost of college and that's what we're gonna talk about today. So, to begin this conversation, we just want to establish there are at least several different sources of assistance to help offset the cost of college. And these sources all have different processes and timelines and application procedures, and so we're gonna dive into some of that. So, Christa, from your perspective give us a brief summary of what financial aid is?

>> Christa Kristich:
Well, financial aid comes in many forms. You have the federal financial aid and you also have state grants and you actually have scholarships that's through the college.

But financial aid for my department is it has a lot to do with students who fill out the financial aid application or better known as the FAFSA. And what that does is it actually gives students opportunities to see if they qualify for grants, loans or even federal work/study opportunities.

Sometimes there are state grants. So, in Illinois, if a student actually is here and qualifies for the Illinois MAP grant, that is a grant that is paid directly towards tuition at the college. But, that is really what financial aid is at Waubonsee.

>> Steven Miller:
So, question about that. So, are these programs that you're talking about, are these specific to or unique to Waubonsee, or are these programs available regardless of where you go to school although the process is kinda similar? What does that mean for people looking at other colleges?

>> Christa Kristich:
For people looking at other colleges, a FAFSA is completed, and it gets sent up to ten other schools. The process is pretty much the same at all the other schools. If a student qualifies for funding at Waubonsee, they have a chance of qualifying for a very similar funding at another school. There's different factors that go into it, but essentially it's one application for any school that is Title IV eligible across the United States.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay, Stephanie, talk to us about scholarships.

>> Stephanie Carreno:
There are a lot of private scholarship opportunities out there from individual organizations and foundations. Waubonsee specifically has the Waubonsee Community College Foundation, which is a separate nonprofit that was established in 1978 that raises money for student scholarships, and that's all we currently raise money for. So, everything that we raise goes directly into our scholarship program. Private scholarships are pretty similar to state and federal grants in that they don't have to be repaid, typically. And then most are used towards not only tuition fees but can also be used towards books as well.

The big difference between private scholarships, like our foundation scholarship program and financial aid is that our scholarships are funded by donations rather than by the state or federal government. So, it's a completely separate application from the FAFSA, and usually every private scholarship or foundation scholarship program will have their own application that they use.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay, good. So, given these two different kinda pools of money, federal and private scholarships and all these things, should someone who's looking at college and looking at attending and paying for college, is this an either or kinda thing, or can students or parents helping students apply to both, but apply for both scholarships, and federal financial later, or have to choose one? How does that work? Christa.

>> Christa Kristich:
Students can actually apply for both. So, with most scholarships it typically applies first and then any federal grants will then apply second. So, there are students that actually can complete their education through scholarships in grant money and essentially never have to take out a loan. So, it's to their benefit to go through the school of their choice and actually see what they offer at that school.

>> Stephanie Carreno:
I was that student. I graduated with my Bachelor's degree without having to borrow any loans between state and federal grants, and private scholarships that I applied for. I graduated with zero loan debt, so it is possible.

>> Steven Miller:
That's a good thing. So okay, so let's talk timelines a little bit. If you can apply for both of them, and I believe Christa, you said that you can apply for both scholarships and federal financial aid, but the federal financial aid, money is available will be considered, I guess after scholarships are available in general or scholarships. If a student get scholarships does that reduce their financial aid that they might get potentially?

>> Christa Kristich:
It really depends on the scholarship in their need. So, the key factor is the expected family contribution number that is generated by the Department of Education when they fill out that financial aid application. And it depends on the amount of the scholarship they receive. But, essentially, the deadline for the federal application is way different than scholarships where an application for a student filling out for financial aid, it's more of an ongoing process. Typically, it starts October 1st, and it will run through June 30th of the following year. So, it's almost a year and a half long process that students can actually complete that. So, it is an ongoing process. For instance, right now we're coming up to the August start. And one of the misses, students don't think there's enough time to fill out the 2019-20 application and there is time to fill it out. So, we always try to encourage students to fill out that application, see where they stand and kind of see what kind of funding they can receive.

>> Steven Miller:
So, Stephanie, what's the timeline for scholarships?

>> Stephanie Carreno:
Private scholarships work a little bit differently. We're typically operating on very specific timelines. It's not available for the extended period of time that that the FAFSA application is. Specifically, for our foundation scholarship program, we open the application on October 1st, the same date that the FASFA opens. And it's open through the first Monday in February. So, students have several months to work on their applications and get those in.

But they're doing that a year ahead of time. So, for example, the scholarships that we just awarded this past spring, that deadline closed on February 4th and we awarded those scholarships over the course of this past spring semester. Those, are for the upcoming academic year that'll start in the fall. So, we tend to award our scholarships the year before so that students know what they have going into the academic year, what kind of resources they have available to them.

>> Steven Miller:
So, to kind of tease us out a little bit, I'm gonna play with the timeline here. So, a student could apply now, or in October first, or when the FAFSA application opens up? When is that again? October?

>> Christa Kristich:
October 1st, the application for the 2020-21 will open.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay. Okay. So even right now if a student wanted to go to college in the fall of 2020, they can still apply for federal aid. Correct?

>> Christa Kristich:
The application is not open as of yet.

>> Steven Miller:
Got it.

>> Christa Kristich:
But come October 1st it will be.

>> Steven Miller:
Yeah.

>> Christa Kristich:
But, if they wanted to actually start this up in coming August so in about two months here, they have time to actually fill out the application.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay, so but there is not scholarship money available for this coming fall?

>> Stephanie Carreno:
Not with the Waubonsee Foundation Scholarship Program. There may be other private scholarships out there that have different deadlines. No, the deadline for private scholarships is really determined by who's offering that scholarship. So there may still be private scholarships available that have deadlines over the summer, it just depends on the scholarship. Our deadline is that first Monday in February before the previous academic year.

>> Steven Miller:
And that is always gonna be for the fall term immediately following that deadline.

>> Stephanie Carreno:
Correct.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay, so, Christa if you could talk to us about eligibility requirements. I know these are federal funds and so there's a lot of probably things tied to that and a lot of variables, but just in general, what makes someone eligible or ineligible for federal funds?

>> Christa Kristich:
Well, the first step is the student actually has to apply. So they have to go on to the FAFSA website, it's fafsa.ed.gov. They have to actually submit the application. But some of the qualifiers to submit the application is the student has to identify whether they're an eligible citizen or AN eligible non-citizen. And that's the first step. The other thing is, if they're male, they have to be registered with Selective Service. They have to be degree seeking at the school that they do choose. And degrees can be in many forms. Some certificates do qualify for federal financial aid. They have to have a high school diploma or GED. And some of the other things that is very important when they apply is they cannot be in default or have any loans or have a grant over payment out there, cuz that would disqualify them across the board. So those are some of the standard ones that students will need to be aware of. One of the most common things that students do ask is especially if they're trying to apply, and say they're an eligible non-citizen, is they do need to have their alien registration number, cuz that is required to fill it out, just because of the data checks that go behind.

>> Steven Miller:
I'm gonna go back to something you mentioned earlier and maybe tie it into what you just said. So, you mentioned state and federal funds. Is it the same FAFSA form and the same process for both state funds and federal funds? And, it's all one form, correct?

>> Christa Kristich:
It is one form. What happens is once the application is actually processed through the Department of Education, and it's a valid transaction, it gets sent to the school that the student or schools that the student puts on the application. It's also sent to the state. The state then determines all of the students that have applied who will be eligible for the funding for that state.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay. Stephanie, so eligibility, I would imagine is quite different for scholarships and it is the process Christa just described, so in general terms, what makes someone eligible or ineligible for a scholarship?

>> Stephanie Carreno:
It really depends on the scholarship. For private scholarships, the criteria is set, either by the donor or the foundation. So, with the Waubonsee Foundation Scholarship Program, we actually have 160 different scholarships that we administer, and all of them have different criteria. Some are need based, some aren't. Some have GPA requirements, others don't. Some are for specific majors, some are open to anybody. So, they are really different.

We have one particular scholarships that actually the only requirement is that you have to be a Waubonsee student. So, every single student that applies to the foundation scholarship program is eligible to be considered for that scholarship. And every student is different. So, the nice thing is we have 160 scholarships, but we have one application for all of them. And the application itself, the software actually does the work of figuring out which scholarships the student qualifies for. And when they finish their application and hit submit, it would automatically apply them only to the ones that they meet the criteria for. So, this pasts scholarship cycle, I actually had a student that qualify for 47 different scholarships. So, every student is different. I had another one that was eligible for 12. So, it just depends on the student and which ones they match the criteria for, but we try to make it as easy as possible with our application so that the student is just answering the questions on the application and then it will actually do the work of figuring out which scholarships the student qualifies for.

>> Steven Miller:
That's pretty remarkable, so just one application, one scholarship application and it sorts out, determines the 1, 7, 47, 12, whatever?

>> Stephanie Carreno:
Mm-hm.

>> Steven Miller:
That's pretty remarkable. Okay, so the questions may be more for you. We hear about other kinds of programs available or work studies and things. Is this part of what somebody should be thinking about when it comes to help them pay for college? What other sources are out there that you're familiar with?

>> Stephanie Carreno:
Well, when a student actually fills out the financial aid application, they also have an opportunity to qualify for Federal Work Study which is on campus jobs. And if a student, when they fill it out they can put yes if they're interested. Even if a student puts no, they can still go back and tell the financial aid department that they are interested in Federal Work Study. Now what Federal Work Study means is its jobs on campus, at the school, sometimes there's some offsite positions and we have two currently locations that are off site.

But it lets a student actually go to school, work a little bit in between their classes, and actually earn money. Every school pays out a little bit differently. But Waubonsee actually does pay students like they are our Waubonsee employees. So, students can have positions across campus in different departments and really gain experience that could help them on their resume and with future employment.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay, so given that what we've heard there's a lot more to this topic and so there's a lot of resources available online, a lot of places, and we will make sure that information gets put out. But are there any other points, Stephanie that you'd like to add about with what students or parents of students should know about ways to pay for college?

>> Stephanie Carreno:
I would just suggest to get in touch with the college itself. The financial aid office is always a great place to start. When students get in touch with financial aid and they know about the foundation scholarship application, we get students referred to us that way all the time.So asking questions is important and what I always like to tell students when I'm out and doing classroom visits at school and talking about our foundation program is a lot of students don't want to take the time to fill out, applications for private scholarships because it does take some time. There's usually an essay component. There's usually at least one letter of recommendation required, so it does take some time and it takes some effort. But what I always like to point out to students, so we have 160 scholarships, the largest one is $3000 and the smallest one is $250. Even if a student qualifies and is selected for our smallest scholarship of $250, if it takes them two hours to do the scholarship application that's $125 an hour. There's no part time job that pays that much money. So, it's definitely worth the investment of their time.

>> Steven Miller:
That's a great point. Christa, any other final points you'd like to make to help people think about paying for college?

>> Christa Kristich:
I just really wanna kinda point out, to Stephanie's point, is always reach out to other departments. Because for instance, we have a Youth Services Program that's located at the Aurora downtown campus. And that actually helps students under the age of 24, and there's qualifiers for it. But that's one way. Another way is sometimes students will actually go to the unemployment office, and there's grants that are given to students that are trying to advance their career who are underemployed or who are unemployed. So, to Stephanie's point is just ask because it's amazing what you'll find out what's out there but there's many ways to help pay for college.

>> Steven Miller:
And I would imagine that both of you and your equivalent your counterparts at other colleges, even across Waubonsee, would know other things. I'm sure there's things for military and veterans, and we have counselors who specialize in that kind of thing and there's a lot of ways available or career development services with the programs to work. So, but it's a great conversation. Great topic, important, and appreciate both the time, Christa and Stephanie, really appreciate this. Thank you.

>> Narrator:
Thanks for listening to Waubonsee Talks. For additional information, please visit waubonsee.edu. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to learn more about how Waubonsee Community College can help you reach your goals.