An important concern for students preparing to attend college is how they will pay for their higher education needs.
Pete Loisel, a freshman at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, sees financial aid as a way of taking the burden off of students who cannot afford to put themselves through college.
“It was easy to apply for financial aid,” Loisel said. “You can just go to FAFSA.gov and fill out the paperwork on the computer. It’s pretty easy to do if you have your tax documents right there.
“With federal financial aid, some people get grants and some people get loans. I received a loan and it’s helped me out a lot.”
Financial aid is identified as any resource used by a student to meet higher education costs. These resources vary and can include scholarships, grants, loans, work-study and tuition reimbursement. According to research from the Digest of Information Statistics, 63.2 percent of undergraduate students across the country received some form of financial aid from 2003 to 2004.
College costs can include tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation and personal expenses.
“Financial aid is a way for students to achieve their dream of attaining a higher education,” said Rose Bremenkamp, manager of the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. “It’s not meant to replace income, it’s meant to supplement income to enable the student to achieve their dream.”
Before any student applies for federal financial aid, they must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To determine a student’s expected family contribution for financial aid, the U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA to conduct a need analysis based on financial income.
Although the FAFSA is primarily used to determine federal financial aid, the state or educational institution may also use the information obtained from the FAFSA to determine whether a student is eligible to receive aid. Students should consider filling out a FAFSA each year regardless of where they plan to apply for aid.
Students should not limit their financial aid search to the government. Financial aid can be offered through a place of employment, professional organizations, local churches and civic organizations.
Bremenkamp recommends students apply early for financial aid. “There are some forms of financial aid where a set amount of money is allocated to the university that can be awarded to students. This award is then based on a first-come, first-serve basis for those who qualify.”
For more information about financial aid at Southern Miss Gulf Coast, call 228.865.4513 or visit www.usm.edu/gc/gcfinancialaid.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu/gulfcoast .