A recent article in the Community College Times suggested that community colleges should do more about getting the word out to students about financial aid that’s available.
Jeff Ford, director of financial aid at Ozarks Technical Community College, said more than $20 million in Pell grants was distributed to more than 7,000 students during the past year and the total amount of all financial aid topped $36 million.
About 40 percent of the 13,000 students who attended OTC this past year did not use financial aid, Ford said, mostly because students either didn’t apply or qualify for aid, took just one or two classes that they paid for themselves or attended classes that were paid with tuition waivers or by their employer.
Ford added that there are those who aren’t aware of what financial aid is available. His advice to those students is simple.
“Do the FAFSA,” he said.
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Financial Student Aid. It is the document every student must complete in order to determine how much financial aid they can receive. No FAFSA, no financial aid. The form, which has been simplified, is available only at www. FAFSA.gov.
There are deadlines for when the FAFSA has to be complete. In order receive aid at the start of the fall semester, the completed FAFSA and related forms, including the admission application found online, must be submitted to the OTC Financial Aid office by July 1.
Those FAFSAs completed after July 1 will be processed, but the financial aid may not be available until later in the fall semester.
Ford said it’s not surprising that some students aren’t aware of how to apply for aid.
“There are students and parents who are having their first brush with college. They have no idea what’s out there. They are eligible for aid and don’t know it,” he said.
New students who come to OTC are advised several times through the enrollment process about completing a FAFSA form. There are handouts and orientation meetings designed to tell students about applying for financial aid.
First-time students can find the admission application and more information at http://www.otc.edu/First-time-students.php
Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College Director of Communications
Coordinator of Publications
Phone: (417) 447-2666