5 Things You Need to Know about Financial Aid

Unfortunately, when many people consider whether to start college, they never make it past the answer to their first question: "How much is tuition?" No one becomes a firefighter for the money, so it is not likely that you have the extra cash lying around...


Unfortunately, when many people consider whether to start college, they never make it past the answer to their first question: "How much is tuition?" No one becomes a firefighter for the money, so it is not likely that you have the extra cash lying around to go back to school. Add to that the...


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     Your school may require you to provide copies of the information that you used to fill out your FAFSA. Provide this information as soon as possible. Once your financial aid is awarded, you will need to accept it. Sign your award letter or accept electronically (depending on your school's requirement) as soon as possible. If you are accepting/receiving loans, you will receive information on loan counseling. Read these instructions and complete your loan counseling as soon as possible. Are you starting to see a pattern here? The quicker you provide the information needed, the quicker your financial aid department can complete your file.

     5. Remember that the FAFSA is for federal financial aid. You will be applying for the Pell Grant, loans and work study when you file your FAFSA. If you are not eligible for this aid, remember that you may qualify for other aid that is available from other sources. Check with the financial aid advisor at your school to learn about state funds that may be available, as well as funds available through your school. Also, if you are currently working or volunteering as a firefighter, check with your department, local chiefs' association and state firefighters' associations.

     Money is at the forefront of everyone's minds these days. The cost of tuition may seem like an unnecessary expense that you cannot afford right now. Tuition for college is an expense, but it is also an investment. It's an investment in you and your future. Take the time to find out if there is assistance out there for you before you decide not to attend due to expense. Finding out if you are eligible for financial aid from the federal government or other sources will take time and effort on your part, but you may find the payoff to be well worth the effort.

BONITA WATTERS is a student services coordinator at the Brashier Campus of Greenville Technical College in Greenville, SC. She began working with the college's Fire Science Technology program during its developmental stages in 2003. Greenville Technical College now offers a certificate in fire service and an associate's degree in applied science with a major in fire science. Watters may be contacted at bonita.watters@gvltec.edu.