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Deadlines count for MVHS seniors
RUMFORD -- Students and their parents gathered in the Media Center at Mountain Valley High School to learn about the high cost of an education beyond high school. Once that reality set in, they were reassured that resources and help are available.
“College expenses are high, but here are options for both students and their parents to help fund the endeavor,” Darcy Cameron said at the end of the evening. She is the mother of Mariah Haggan, a MVHS senior.
The message was not wasted on the students. Brooke Dolloff learned, “Deadlines are important. I want to go to a four-year college and major in graphic design.”
MVHS Guidance Counselor Jim Ippolitto organized the financial aid night for seniors and their parents. “I purposely arranged to host the financial aid night prior to the holidays so parents and students can begin the process on January 1. For parents going through this for the first time, it can be a little confusing.”
“Family dynamics can also make the process confusing,” Ippolito continued. “In some families, it’s difficult to figure out which parent’s financial information to use. In those cases, the student should use information from the parent they live with the most. If students are confused about this, stop by my office and we can sort it out.”
Pam Grate from Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) explained the four steps of applying for financial aid. The first step is to prepare by researching college costs, financial aid deadlines and requirements, and scholarships.
Senior Adam Volkernick learned that every college has a net price calculator on their site. "I plan to attend Husson or UMO for criminal justice. I hope to achieve a BA (Bachelor’s of Arts) or MS (Master’s of Science).”
The second step is to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.gov after January 1. The earlier students apply, the more money they are likely to be awarded. The experts suggest not waiting until parents submit their tax returns. Simply use estimates and then make corrections later.
Carlene Nicols clearly heard the message, “The sooner FAFSA is filled out the better.” Her son, Ryan, plans to attend University of Maine for civil engineering. He will fund part of this education from the proceeds of his business, R & N Firewood.
For example, if a school’s FAFSA deadline is March 1, a student who applied on January 15 was awarded $22,150 in grants and loans.
By waiting until March 15, the same student would only receive $13,050. The same student who procrastinates until June 15 would earn only $11,050.
The third step in applying for financial aid is to followup with tax information as it becomes available. Some colleges request additional information and failure to respond could reduce financial aid.
Mary Dailey noted, “Organization will be extremely important during this process.” Her daughter, Ryanne Dailey, attends Dirigo High School and plans to major in chemical or biomedical engineering.
The fourth step is to receive award notification and respond by the deadline in the notification. Financial aid comes in many forms including federal grants that do not have to be repaid, federal work-study, federal loans and financial aid from the college.
Erika Thibodeau commented, “I’m not so afraid to sign up for federal student loans after learning about them. I plan on going to college for nursing,”
At the end of the evening, parents and students were pleased with what they learned.
“I learned how to complete the FAFSA and the scholarship opportunities available to the student,” Shannon Welch said. “Pam did a terrific job. She was well-spoken, well-informed and presented very well!” Welch is the mother of Morgan Duguay.
Duguay reported, “I am applying to UMF, Husson and UMO, as well as Thomas with a major in physical therapy and/or early childhood.”
Tammy Webb, mother of Jeremy Pettigrow, summed up the evening, “I feel as though tonight’s program was very informative. Thank you! I felt that all my questions were answered.”
Pettigrow hopes to attend University of Maine at Orono for engineering.