Students have many financial aid opportunities available


By Erin Kolb

While going to college isn’t cheap, students can find ways to alleviate the costs of attending.

Jane Jordan, associate director of Student Financial Aid, and NIU alumna Jonitiana Kelly presented Navigating Your Financial Planning at Neptune Hall Monday. Jordan said she hoped students would understand from the presentation that they could go to school for free through scholarships, grants, loans and tuition waivers.

Jordan said she advocates saving money at school through scholarships and checking up on scholarship opportunities frequently.

“It would be silly not to like NIU Scholarships on Facebook,” Jordan said. “You should be checking that every week.”

The most common problem among students is that they are unsure about applying for financial aid, she said.

“The number one thing I hear is that students don’t want to take out a lot of loans,” Jordan said.

She said students can keep loans as low as possible by trying to graduate in four years. They should also meet with their academic advisers every semester to make sure they stay on track and take classes over the summer to help shorten the time until graduation.

Jordan said smart students file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year and file the Student Aid Report that comes after the FAFSA is submitted. Doing this will maximize their Stafford Loans and they will have to borrow only what they need.

Freshman accountancy major Dylan McDonough said he attended the lecture to learn more about financial opportunities for students.

“I came to learn about different opportunities for student scholarships and merit-based awards,” he said.

McDonough said the lecture taught him how important it was to deal with charges on bursar accounts immediately.

“Come spring, you can’t register for classes if you have outstanding charges greater than $500,” Jordan said.

For the 2013-2014 FAFSA forms, Jordan said she recommends filing one soon after the year 2013 begins. The priority date for filing a FAFSA is March 1 every year, according to the Student Financial Aid website.