Financial FAQs

Yes.... Keep trying! And, apply for everything.

Don't discount yourself before you've even entered. Let those on the judging panel decide whether or not you qualify. Apply to ones for which you only have one or two 'qualifications.' Maybe they receive no other applications and they choose to go ahead and give the money to you, even though you don't qualify completely.

There are many scholarships that go unclaimed every year. Through employers, community groups, churches, even companies like CocaCola. Start with the free scholarship matching services such as FastWeb.com. Check out our financial aid help page as well.

For more information, see chapter 3 of The Adult Student's Guide to Survival & Success, "How to Choose Your Program, Get Financial Help, and Become Oriented."

So to reiterate, apply, apply, apply for all the scholarships and loans you can, and remember that for credible sources, there should be NO COST involved for you to do this -- just your time. Numbers are the key. So send in those applications!

Congratulations on keeping your dream alive!

Check out our Financial Aid help page and links on our student links page.

There are several free places to look for scholarships (though, they may request you register). There is no need to pay anyone a fee to join an online scholarship search. Here are a few to get you started:
FastWeb, FinAid, The Old School

In addition, look for another (possibly neighboring) state's scholarship information. While some programs may be state specific, some states do a better job at collecting and presenting general information than others. Here's a list of state scholarship offices. Some may have web presences, search the web on the department name for the state you wish.

I would suggest reading our financial aid tips and applying for as many scholarships and grants as possible. It's a numbers game sometimes--you need to apply to many in order to get a few. Even apply to ones for which you only have one or two 'qualifications.'

Also, check out scholarships offered by local service groups such as the Soropotmists club. Soroptimist International is a women's service group that has as a mission the enhancement of women's opportunities. You may have to look for a local chapter for scholarship information.

Good luck and stick with it. You have the drive to finish and that's half the battle.

Do not fear, you are not alone. Look for scholarships and apply to any and all you find. Scholarships generally don't take into account your credit score or repayment history. Look for state opportunity grants. See some of the tips on our financial aid help page to give you some more ideas.

 

You have a good question for which we do not have a very good answer. Your best bet is to talk to your social worker AND a financial aid counselor at your future school, or one at any school in your state of residency. Every state is different in how it doles out federal monies, and regulations and programs change constantly.

We found this older article Individuals with Disabilities can retain Medicaid or Medicare while working recently, and you may find some useful information there.

This is a catch-22 for sure. While at one time the federal "Welfare-to-Work" may have helped you, the program was discontinued in 2004. Some cities, counties, states and colleges still have similar programs that either stand alone or are part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. You will need to see what is available in your area. Start with contacting your state's scholarship office.

Beware, once in a while, you may encounter a social worker that doesn't have your best interests in mind. He or she may have personal issues which they transfer to the job. It is most often a person who doesn't have a college degree themselves. They may say they cannot help you in any way. They may feel it is not fair to help you fulfill goals greater than their own. If you encounter such a person—which is rare but not unheard of—see if you can speak with their supervisor.


 

You have a good question! Please note that we are not financial advisors and as such cannot comment on your specific situation. However... depending on the funding source, you probably have options on what to spend the "refund" money on.

Many funding sources do have limits on what you can spend on, but others don't. Your best bet is to ask the financial aid office at your school. They will know your funding sources, situation and restrictions.

 

 

We don't have a whole lot of information for Canada, but try these:

EduCanada - Official education site of Canadian government.

Student Aid - Student grants and loans, scholarships, education savings, apprentice loans and grants.

Lifelong Learning Plan - RRSP Withdrawls - Information about using your retirement account to pay for educational expenses.

Maybe a web search on phrases such as "Canadian financial aid for low income students" or "Canadian social assistance education resources."

My advice to your cousin is to apply, apply, apply for scholarships. Sometimes an organization will offer a scholarship that no one applies for. In these cases, if they only get one application who isn't even completely qualified for their specific scholarship, they'll still give the money away.

FAQs compiled by
Kristin Pintarich
Editor-in-Chief, Practical Psychology Press

Beware of your Loan Forgiveness Program!

3 Steps to Help Ensure You’re Compliant

Hands-Money Photo by Alexander Mils on UnsplashIt has come to light that since 2017, thousands of former students who participated with full faith and effort in the US Education Department's various loan forgiveness programs — such as working as an inner-city teacher or rural doctor — have gotten "stiffed" on their loan forgiveness applications. Some people have been told they haven’t made the required 120 consecutive on-time payments, even though they have. Some have been told their employment doesn’t qualify, even after being reassured at time of hire that it did.

It’s a sticky situation that started coming to light in 2017, ten years after the program (passed in 2007 by the US Congress and enacted by President George W. Bush) began when the forgiveness time came due. Many borrowers found that due to lack of oversight, important information about their loan payments or work history did not get recorded properly, and their loan forgiveness was denied.

What Should I Do?

If you are currently or planning to take advantage of one of the loan forgiveness programs, we suggest  you:

  1. Log on to the National Student Loan Data System to ensure that your loan record is correct.
  2. Make sure that you keep your Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification (PDF) current. Clark Howard (consumer advocate hero!) suggests that you file this form each year. Can’t hurt!
  3. Visit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness page and tool
    to see if there is an option for you there. Currently (2019), they show an alert that there is a temporary loan forgiveness program available for some loans. Go now... first come, first served! Warning: You need to apply for the main loan forgiveness program BEFORE applying for the temporary emergency program.

    (9/9/19 note: The US government's General Accounting Office released a report that the US Department of Education is denying over 99% of applications for the temporary program. This is so wrong. All we can say is to apply anyway, be very patient, expect to get denied, and hopefully by the time you appeal the politicians will have a fix. See below for links to find your federal legislature to contact them about this atrocity.)

If you currently do not qualify, you should try to identify and speak to your loan officer, or some other representative from the lender/servicing company to see if they have any options for you. If you don’t know who that is, you can reach out to your former school’s financial aid office and they should be able to help trace your loan.

One suggestion is to consolidate your loans and change it to one of the available income-driven repayment plans which may be available for forgiveness. NOTE: This may reset the 120 month timer, so this option would be better for recent graduates. If you choose this option, know that debt consolidation is a free service. There a several marketers who try to sell you their loan consolidation services for a fee. Know that you are paying for their service, not any fees in connection to the loan consolidation.

Another suggestion is to try to wait it out. The current administration has indicated in their 2020 Budget Proposal a desire to end the forgiveness program (as well as subsidized loans in general) to save the government money. While this is not a guaranteed eventuality as Congress will insert their politics, the intent of the current administration is clear — the students of today don't matter. A new administration may well keep the programs which have allowed so many students to prosper — and contribute long term to the economy! (Just our opinion.)

What Can I Do?

Meanwhile, if you’re the activist type, go ahead and submit your opinion about the future of student loan programs. Here are some links:

US Student Aid feedback
"We want to hear from you about your federal student aid experience."

Raw source for current regulations open to comment on "student aid forgive"

Find your federal legislator (and write them a letter/send an email!):
US House of Representatives
US Senate

US Government Student Loan Forgiveness Statistics

Student Loan Information Resources

NerdWallet 10+ Student Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation and Discharge Programs

Forbes magazine Student Loan info

Resources pulled from Clark.com:

*Note the suggestions in this article are for general information only. Contact your financial professional for advice specific to your situation.

2018-2019 FAFSA Form now available

First come, firs served for federal student aid. Don’t miss out! Get your application in early!

Dollar SignAre you even THINKING about going back to school in the Fall of 2018? The time is NOW to get your financial aid forms submitted. Can you believe it? That may seem like a long way out, but it is way easier to cancel aid than try to apply for and receive it next summer.

In order to allow folks more time to fill our their annual Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form, it is now made available online on October 1 of the year prior to need.

We recommend that ALL students fill out this form. It is the key to unlocking aid you my not have known existed, or that you may not have felt you qualify for. You don’t know unless you try!

We recommend that you fill out the form as soon as possible as some states run out of funding early. First come, First served.

Visit the Federal Student Aid home page to get started on this years FAFSA.

The 2018-2019 enrollment period has also reactivated access the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. (It closed in early 2017 for security reasons.) If you choose to link to your IRS account via this tool, this can save you time and ensure accuracy. Note that if you use the retrieval tool, you will not be able to see or edit the data entered on the website. I guess this is a security feature. If you manually enter the info, you can see and change it.

Tips

Some tips from fellow students:

  • Make Friends with Your Instructors To make the most of your learning experience, and to get the best grades possible, it is good to form a positive relationship with each of your instructors. In some cases this is easy to do: you are dazzled by the instructor’s knowledge, make opportunities to ask questions, and find encouragement to share your views. ...
  • Time Management Tricks 2.0 Whether you are a business executive, teacher, student, parent, or if you fill any combination of these daily roles, it’s likely that every minute of your day counts and any spare time is valuable. So, how can you use your time wisely? Here are several ideas: Create a Lesson Plan If you are pursing your college degree, ...
  • Angry Mothers on Welfare Must Fight for Education Funding Diana Spatz was a single mother on welfare. She encountered many barriers when she tried to get an education to become self-sufficient, but she found ways to overcome them. She now works to help other parents on welfare gain access to funding that is available for their education. Diana says: In 1996, I was a ...
  • Succeeding Despite Invisible Handicaps (Comment by Al Siebert: This letter from a college student with mental problems that I counseled is a useful reminder to instructors that some students have invisible handicaps that they may not reveal. "Gil’s" letter also shows that some "challenged" students show amazing resourcefulness and courage in their determination to succeed. Here is his letter…) Well, ...
  • Facing Racism Made Me Better, Not Bitter Jackie Leno Grant spent her early years in a comfortable world, surrounded by family and friends. Moving to another town changed all that. As a Native American in a nearly all-white school in rural western Oregon, Jackie felt out of place. Her unfair treatment at school could have made her bitter and rebellious, but Jackie ...
  • An Online Mom Shares Some Tips Melinda, an online student of co-author Mary Karr’s, shares her experience being a college student an the mother of young children: Hello Mary, I feel privileged that you would ask for my input. I know very well how challenging it can be to try schooling with young children. First, I have to dismantle my computer system ...
  • From Homeless to Harvard – Liz Murray’s Story A few people are born resilient. Elizabeth Murray is one of them. Her parents were cocaine addicts who spent most of the family’s money on feeding their habits. Liz explains that as a result, she and her sister were neglected. The girls often lacked food and warm clothes. By age 15, Liz was homeless. ...
  • Dare to Take Risks to Find Your Purpose! We all have a very special purpose in life regardless of who we are or from where we come. Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinPinterestemailPrint
  • Tips for Students on Medications The suggestions I have are… Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinPinterestemailPrint
  • How to find time for distance learning while working full time When you are working full-time and want to improve your education or gain some new qualifications it can be very hard to find the extra time to study. Share this...FacebookTwitterLinkedinPinterestemailPrint
  • Beware of your Loan Forgiveness Program! 3 Steps to Help Ensure You’re Compliant It has come to light that since 2017, thousands of former students who participated with full faith and effort in the US Education Department’s various loan forgiveness programs — such as working as an inner-city teacher or rural doctor — have gotten “stiffed” on their loan forgiveness applications. Some ...

How to find time for distance learning while working full time

When you are working full-time and want to improve your education or gain some new qualifications it can be very hard to find the extra time to study.

When you are working full-time and want to improve your education or gain some new qualifications it can be very hard to find the extra time to study. Even with the benefits of studying through distance learning, which allows you to study when you want, finding the spare time to study can be tough. Continue reading “How to find time for distance learning while working full time”

Dare to Take Risks to Find Your Purpose!

We all have a very special purpose in life regardless of who we are or from where we come.

by Stephen J. Hopson

"We are very near to greatness: one step and we are safe:

can we not take the leap?"     — Ralph W. Emerson


We all have a very special purpose in life regardless of who we are or from where we come. I truly believe each of us has a special calling in life even though it took me over 30 years to find mine! What follows is a series of events that have changed my life as a result of my willingness to take risks in the face of absolute uncertainty and trusting my instincts. Continue reading “Dare to Take Risks to Find Your Purpose!”

From Homeless to Harvard – Liz Murray’s Story

A few people are born resilient. Elizabeth Murray is one of them. Her parents were cocaine addicts who spent most of the family’s money on feeding their habits. Liz explains that as a result, she and her sister were neglected. The girls often lacked food and warm clothes. By age 15, Liz was homeless. Continue reading “From Homeless to Harvard – Liz Murray’s Story”

Facing Racism Made Me Better, Not Bitter

Jackie Leno Grant spent her early years in a comfortable world, surrounded by family and friends. Moving to another town changed all that. As a Native American in a nearly all-white school in rural western Oregon, Jackie felt out of place. Her unfair treatment at school could have made her bitter and rebellious, but Jackie refused to let bitterness rule her life, followed through with her goals, and graduated college. Here is her story:

During the seventh grade, Jackie became aware of the racism around her. "It usually wasn’t on the surface. But I became aware of people looking at me strangely, whispering about my family, expecting me to do something wrong," she says. "my parents were out of their element in Tillamook, too. They didn’t make friends. There were no visitors in and out of the house."

Jackie’s sense of loss was magnified when her beloved grandmother died. An important link to the loving, accepting world of her childhood was gone. At about the same time, Jackie’s mother took a graveyard shift job at a local mill. Jackie found herself getting less attention at home.

During the next couple of years at school, Jackie recalls, "I completely lost my bearings. School was a joke. My teachers didn’t seem to care, and I cared less. I only went to the classes where I didn’t feel humiliated, like choir and writing class."

Trying to connect with someone who might help, Jackie visited the guidance counselor and asked for information on trade schools. But the counselor stared at her and said, "School isn’t for you. You’re just going to get married and have a bunch of kids." The counselor’s words devastated Jackie. "I’d been raised by people who had always told me, ‘You can do whatever you want to do.’ This was the first time I was told outright that I should not expect much out of life."

After that point, she says, "I hung out with my friends, smoked cigarettes, skipped school, and experimented with drugs."

Soon matters got even worse. One day, Jackie and some friends went to the local Dairy Queen for lunch and decided not to return to school. The next day they were called into the vice-principal’s office. According to school policy, students caught skipping school for the first time were warned. The second time, they were suspended for three days. Jackie and her friends had never been caught before. The other kids in the group, who were all white, received the expected warning. Jackie was told to leave school and never come back.

"I asked my mom to call the school and see why I wasn’t treated like the other kids," says Jackie. "But she wouldn’t. I know she was worried about my behavior, but I also think it was because she didn’t feel she was a part of that community. She didn’t know how to assert herself there." Instead, Jackie’s mother took her to see a juvenile counselor, saying, "I don’t know what my daughter’s doing. I can’t control her."

"So," Jackie says, "I was made a ward of the court and sent to a reform school in Portland."

At the school, Jackie was housed in a cottage with fifteen other girls. "I was searched. My luggage was searched. We were locked in our rooms at night. There were bars on the windows. Alarms sounded if someone left the campus. Newcomers weren’t allowed visitors for a month because we were considered runaway risks during that time."

Despite the institutional feel of the place, Jackie learned to like the school, where she found the housemothers and teachers "nice and caring." "I did a lot of observing and thinking there," she says. "As I watched the other girls, I realized that I had more good things in my life than most of them had. I had a sense of myself and where I came from. Although we hadn’t always gotten along, I had people who loved me and had tried their best to take care of me. It was obvious at mail call time and visitors’ day that many of the other girls had no one who cared at all."

Jackie began to think that she had arrived at the juvenile home for a reason. A surprising visitor convinced her that she was right. "The housemother called to say someone wanted to see me," says Jackie. "I walked out to see an ancient woman standing there. She said, ‘You’re Jacqueline Leno.’ Then she looked at me for a long time and seemed so pleased. Finally, she stated, ‘I knew your mother very well.’ I was surprised. ‘How do you know her?’ I asked. She answered, ‘This is the place where you were born.’"

Jackie’s elderly visitor went on to explain that, years before, the school had been a home for unwed mothers. It was to this home that Jackie’s mother had gone as a confused, pregnant, 15-year-old. The old woman, who had been an employee of the home, had taken a special interest in Jackie’s young mother. "She spoke very fondly of my mom. Although she had retired years ago, she came back just to see me."

Learning that she had returned to the place of her birth filled Jackie with a sense of peace and purpose. "I knew I was completing a circle in my life, and I felt sure that things were falling into place for all the right reasons."

Jackie did well at the school, both academically and socially. After she had been there several months, a counselor called Jackie into her office. The counselor said, "Jackie, I just don’t understand."

Jackie had wondered if she had somehow managed to get into trouble. "What is it?" she asked.

"You study hard," the counselor said. "You don’t lose you temper. You never get into fights. You don’t run away. Why are you here?"

"I skipped school," Jackie answered.

Within days, the counselor and teachers had come up with a plan for Jackie. The school’s principal and English teacher had recently gotten married. The couple, Curt and Karen Prickett, volunteered to be Jackie’s foster parents. She moved into their home, but continued to attend classes at the school. During her senior year, the Pricketts helped Jackie land a half-time job at the immigration service office in Portland.

"I couldn’t have asked for better parents," Jackie says. "We had a terrific relationship. They let me use their extra car to go home and see my parents on weekends. They helped me develop my social skills. They loved to give parties, and they would tell me my job at the party was to ‘mingle.’ I did a lot of growing up living with them."

After graduating, Jackie moved back to Tillamook and worked as a waitress. "It was a very happy time of my life," she recalls. "I found that a lot of people in Tillamook remembered me. Some knew me just as ‘that girl who got railroaded out of town.’ But others remembered me for more positive things. I saw that I had more support in that town than I had realized. My own withdrawal had cut me off from people who would have helped me."

While working at the restaurant, Jackie met Steve Grant, a young man who was supporting himself as a carpenter as he worked his way through college. The two began dating. "Steve recognized in me abilities and drive that no one else had ever seen," she says. "He became my mentor, encouraging me to try college classes."

Hesitantly, Jackie enrolled for a summer term at a community college. Her placement-test scores were "horrible" in most areas. "I needed every remedial class that the college offered. But I wasn’t at all discouraged by that," she explains. "As I look at it, I hadn’t failed. I simply hadn’t prepared adequately for college work, and now I was doing something about that."

Jackie continued taking classes until the school’s Native American counselor approached her one day. He had observed her love for learning and encouraged her to enroll in a four-year college. "You’re not sure what you want to do with your life, and a four-year degree will offer you many more choices." he told her. Jackie decided to trust his advice, and she and Steve both enrolled at Eastern Oregon State College, in LaGrande.

At the end of her first year at Eastern, Steve graduated with his bachelor’s degree. The two felt the time was right to marry and begin a family, so Jackie left school. But eight years and three children later, Jackie decided to go back to college. She re-enrolled at Eastern Oregon and went to school for three solid years, including summers. She also held a part-time job in the school’s Native American program.

After she earned her degree in psychology in 1989, Jackie became director of Eastern Oregon’s Native American program. In that position, she advises the school’s Native American and Native Alaskan students, teaching them to reach out and get the help they need from the educational system. She, Steve, and their children–Neesha, Joaquin, and Jack–open their home to the students she advised, often hosting potluck dinners.

Jackie Grant’s ancestors walked a "Trail of Tears." While Jackie’s trail has had it’s own rough spots, her strong pride in her Native American heritage and the early lessons of her parents and grandparents have led her to achieve her personal goals. "They taught me that true satisfaction lies in doing your best, working your hardest, and reaching for the goals that you yourself have set, not those that anyone else has set for you," states Jackie. "I believed them when they told me that I could do whatever I wanted."

Adapted with permission from Everyday Heros, by Beth Johnson.

Everyday Heros tells the inspiring stories of 20 men and women who have faced and overcome serious challenges in their lives. ISBN: 0-944210-26-0. Purchase a used copy of Everyday Heros from Amazon.com.