Finding Financial Aid for College Can Be Daunting, Complicated
The cost of attending college goes up every year, and it's especially tough to afford it in this economy. That's why students and families are turning more and more to financial aid, but the process can be complicated.
A presentation hosted by advisers from Piedmont Virginia Community College helps parents and students navigate the FASFA form and figure out how to find grants, scholarship, or student loans for college.
Once Charlottesville High School student is applying to attend culinary school out of state. Tracy Ivery and her mom, Cynthia, are attending the forum to see if Tracy qualifies for financial aid.
"I didn't really know much about it, so I decided to come out and get help with it," said Cynthia Ivery.
Advisers explain how to best fill out the applications.
"I asks a lot of questions about your taxes and your living circumstances," explains Heather Lutz, Outreach Manager at PVCC. "A lot of people need help with that."
The form asks about family history. If you're employed, they ask how much you make.
"I think this is more like a punishment," said Quintin, a Charlottesville High School Senior applying for financial aid. "It's like they ask so many trick questions and a lot of them are tedious."
It's enough to turn some off from even applying.
"A lot of people don't apply because they believe they won't be eligible," says Lutz. "Financial aid comes in grants, scholarships, work study, and student loans. Students may be eligible for some if not all of it."
It's not just high school students who stand to earn student loans this year. Adults making as much as $40,000 a year can still find financial aid.
"If for some reason their situation financially has changed since their taxes have been done, they need to write a letter to their financial aid office," says Carol Larson, a Financial Adviser at PVCC.
Tracy and Quentin made it through the process.
"There's a lot of help out here for these kids if you just step out and take advantage of it," says Tracy's mom, Cynthia. "You need to do everything you can."
Quentin is relieved once the application is nearly complete.
"I'm kind of glad I'm at the last page of this," he says. "I can just submit it and be finished."
The next challenge for these applicants is waiting to see if they qualified for those loans.
The event was free and open to the public. If you missed it and want to research the process check out the FAFSA website.
According to the National College Board, the average public four year university costs nearly $7,000 a year, and that's not including room and board.