Auburn Family

Understanding Financial Aid : Where to Start

You've been accepted to Auburn University, now how are you going to afford it?

Many freshmen are overwhelmed with excitement about graduating high school and forget that a college education is not cheap, and every year it seems that tuition becomes more expensive.

Mike Reynolds, the executive director of Student Financial Services explains, "Generally, people are excited to come to Auburn and forget to come across the hall to see how that are going to pay for it."

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To put it in perspective, a year of college for an Alabama resident could reach as high as $21,728. That includes tuition for 12 credit hours, housing, books, personal and transportation cost. For a non-resident, the total cost are higher at $34,208.
The next question is where to go for help. The answer is Student Financial Services in 203 Mary Martin Hall. After the financial panic hits students, Student Financial Services is there to help out with any financial difficulties and allow students to focus their stress appropriately on upcoming exams instead.

Reynolds says, "The biggest mistake (a student can make) is doing nothing." This means that at the first sign of financial stress, students should make appointments and talk to advisor about options before they allow payments to lapse.

Financial aid is anything a student has to help pay the cost of going to school, and the Student Financial Services office has two types of funds for helping students, the campus based fund and the entitlement fund.

The campus-based fund is awarded first for students who are eligible for such grants as the Federal Work Study grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant. The requirements for all grants include, but are not limited to, undergraduate students pursuing their first undergraduate degree.

The entitlement fund includes loans and the Federal Pell grants. This grant is free money for students who have been approved for less than $4,241 for college. FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, evaluates a student's dependency and ability to afford college tuition.

The results of FAFSA quantifies all eligible students the Pell grant through a government program with unlimited funds. The maximum amount awarded, to any one student from 2009-2010, was $5,350 per year.

In other words, a student who qualifies for the highest amount of government aid still has $16,378 left to pay for the year. Student Financial Services understands this burden and encourages students to apply for government grants to ensure scholarships are given to those with the biggest needs.

"Results (for FAFSA) should be ready by March 1, of senior year," Reynolds explains. "The first round of scholarships are December 1, and the second round is after the FAFSA results and awarded April 1.

Financial aid is the last step after grants and scholarships are awarded. It is calculated by taking the cost of attendance minus the estimated family contribution, which is determined by FAFSA, and scholarships and grants.

If the final number is negative, then the student does not have to worry about loans. However, if the number is positive, Student Financial Services will find the appropriate loans and payment plans for each student.

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