Paying for college: Mission Not-So-Impossible

[media-credit id=108 align=”alignright” width=”198″][/media-credit]Finding a way to pay for college might intimidate some students, especially with the varying contracts and forms that are often involved, but the government and Weber State University offer various forms of accommodation to help students pay for their schooling.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be a gateway for students to turn to for financial assistance. Jed Spencer, the director of the financial aid and scholarship department at WSU, clarified what FAFSA can be used for in regards to financial assistance.

“FAFSA is applying for federal grants, loans and work study,” he said. “WSU uses the FAFSA data to determine need for the need-based scholarships. Students must apply each year.”

According to Trevor Pletcher, a senior majoring in human performance management and sports and recreation at WSU, paying for college is difficult even with his football scholarship.

“Football pays for school and some food and other things I need, but it usually doesn’t cover all the food I need,” Pletcher said.

As reported by the WSU website, the school gives out more than $90 million to students in need of financial assistance annually and is noted to be one of the least expensive four-year colleges in the western United States.

Spencer noted that the school offers waivers and private scholarships outside of FAFSA, such as the Alumni Legacy Nonresident Scholarship, academic scholarships, Wildcat activity scholarships, financial need-based scholarships, donor-sponsored departmental scholarships, donor-sponsored special-condition scholarships, the Sterling Scholar scholarship and the Army ROTC scholarships.

Steve Kerr, director of institutional research at WSU, provided the statistics reported from Student Financial Aid, which shows that Stafford loans were ranked to be the most dispersed form of financial aid at WSU.

The Pell grant was listed as the second-most dispersed method of financial aid. Institutional scholarships and grants were third on the financial totem pole.

Scholarships aren’t the only methods of easing the heavy tuition load. Through FAFSA, students who are eligible for work-study can be employed with the school to receive extra income to pay for whatever they need for their education.

Eligible students can search for work-study opportunities at the career site for WSU, The career site is not only for work-study students; students can also look for jobs available through the school to make extra cash.

WSU also makes it possible for students to make money while being involved in school activities through involvement opportunity positions, jobs that allow students to take part in school activities, events and clubs while getting paid for doing the things they enjoy. They are awarded with stipends and scholarships, and the positions are available for every academic school year.

An alternative way for students to generate additional finances for college expenses is through Americorps, one of the many volunteer programs that awards scholarships to students who use their time to volunteer in their community throughout the year.

Americorps requires all of its members to log their volunteer hours and, at the end of the school year, students receive $1,175-$2,775 for their volunteer hours. Money from Americorps can be used for academic expenses other than tuition. The money can be used for purchasing a new laptop, paying off student loans or even purchasing a new car to get students from work to school.