Category Archives: Student Info

Changes to the FAFSA: What you need to know

As the 2017-2018 school year approaches, students and their families need to know about changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA is important for a few reasons, as it’s a pathway to receiving several forms of financial aid including grants, loans and work study. More information is available from the office of financial aid. Here’s a rundown of what’s new.

fafsa


Start your FAFSA Oct. 1

Submit your application sooner

Students can file a 2017-2018 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016. This is a permanent change and will allow students to complete their applications before the start of the new year.

Sending income information is easier

Beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will report their 2015 income information. This is a switch from the past, when the application required financial information from the previous year. That means most income information should not change from students’ 2016-2017 FAFSA.

The most important part is to file as early as possible, as the priority deadline for state-funded programs such as the Access Missouri grant is now Feb. 1, 2017. Missouri State University –West Plains’s scholarship deadline is March 31, 2017. The priority deadline for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS) is March 31, 2017.

*FAFSA FRENZY*

NEED HELP FILING YOUR 2016-2017 FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID (FAFSA)?
*Attend a FAFSA Frenzy (a state-wide initiative) on MARCH 5, from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM at Lybyer Technology Building!
*Volunteers will be available to assist you to file your FAFSA. You can also sign up for a State-Wide Drawing – One of Sixteen $500 Scholarships to be used at any postsecondary program in Missouri.
*REMEMBER – MARCH 31, 2016 is the DEADLINE for FAFSA to be completed in order to be considered for the Supplemental Grant, and Federal Work Study Program. Also, the majority of scholarships has a deadline of March 31, 2016.
*Happy Spring!

Mapping Your Education

While attending a college or university may be expensive, there are several different ways you can reduce the overall cost of higher education.

Choose an educational institution wisely.
•Evaluate the costs of public vs. private, two-year vs. four-year, in-state vs. out-of-state schools
•Take general education classes at a local state or community college
• Research graduation rates, job placement rates, and average amounts of loans borrowed from the colleges you are looking at.

Plan how you will pay for college.
-Save for college
-Use education loyalty and affinity programs
-Explore financial aid options
-Claim tax credits and deductions for education

Plan to graduate on time (within four years)
-Money is time – The longer you take the higher the cost in tuition, time, and resources, along with a delay in earning power.
-Research schools that offer accelerated programs – students should seek programs of study that will allow degree attainment in the shortest time possible.

Take accelerated coursework/curriculum
-Advanced Placement classes prepare students with the possibility of earning academic scholarships and specific scholarships in certain fields of study: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
-College Level Examinations Programs (CLEP) allows students to earn credit if they demonstrate proficiency in college courses.
-International Baccalaureate degrees could possible equate to college credit

Work outside of the classroom
-Helps build professional network and professional references
-Helps earn money for college expenses
-Federal work-study programs
-Part-time employment
-Summer jobs
-Internships
-Provides opportunities for full-time employment after graduation
-Helps prioritize your time for classes, studying, and free time

Develop a spending plan
Develop a spending plan, or budget, and develop long-term and short-term goals for the money that you earn or any excess financial aid funds that may be released to you.

Check out Mapping Your Future website for more information.

Requirements To Receive Federal Student Aid

To receive student aid there are requirements students must meet first.

Students must obtain a college or career school education, either by having a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or by completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.

Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.

Be registered with Selective Service, if you are a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25).

Have a valid Social Security number unless you are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.

Sign certifying statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that
*you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe a refund on a federal grant and
*you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.

Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school.

In Addition you must be one of the following:
-U.S. citizen or U.S. National
-Have a grean card
-Have an arrival-departure record
-Have battered immigrant status
-Have a T-Visa

To file for Federal Student Aid go to FAFSA for a free application.

Look Into All Forms Of Financial Aid

A variety of financial assistance programs are available to help you fund your college education. Scholarships, grants and work-study assignments are available to students of all ages and backgrounds.

The first step for most of these programs is to complete and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 each year. You must file your FAFSA before April 1 to qualify for the Access Missouri grant.
Findout if you qualify for financial aid.

Federal Student Aid
*Federal Pell Grant
*Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
*Teacher education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
*Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
*Federal Work Study
*Federal Perkins Loan
*Direct Subsidized Loan
*Direct PLUS Loans

State Student Aid
*A+ Scholarship
*Access Missouri Grant
*Advanced Placement Incentive Grant
*Bright Flight Scholarship
*Kids’ Chance Scholarship
*Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Scholarship
*Minority Teaching Scholarship
*Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program
*Public Service Officer Survivor Grant
*Vietnam Veteran Survivor Grant
*Wartime Veteran’s Survivors Grant

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a person commits fraud while posing as someone else. The threat of identity theft is real and can take months or even years to recover from once you are a victim. Use the information below to familiarize yourself with the precautions you can take to minimize the chance of becoming a victim and, if you are a victim, these steps will help you correct the situation.

FOLLOW THESE HELPFUL HINTS TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT:

Personal:

1. Order a copy of your credit report on a frequent basis (at least annually, preferably quarterly). You can request your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.

2. If you have to give private information over the phone, ensure you are in a secure location.

3. Shred all financial statements, billing statements, and pre-approved credit card offers.

4. The IRS does not request personal/financial data through email, so don’t respond to any emails asking for that information.

5. Check your financial accounts regularly.

6. Select Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) and passwords carefully so they can’t be easily guessed by someone else.

7. Don’t give out private information over the phone or Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know for certain to whom you are speaking.

8. Destroy your computer’s hard drive if you are selling it or giving it away.

9. Don’t carry your social security card with you.

10. Don’t carry your registration in your vehicle; instead, carry it in your wallet.

11. Don’t carry auto insurance policies in your car; instead, keep them safe at home.

12. Make photo copies of all the cards in your wallet and keep them in a safe place.

E-Commerce:

1. Ensure you are using an ATM without someone watching you.

2. Pay your bills online using a secure website if that option is available to you.

3. Avoid entering your credit card number online unless it is encrypted on a secure website.

Mail:

1. Take outgoing personal and/or bill payments to the U.S. Postal Service mailboxes or drop them off inside a post office.

2. Don’t write your account number on the outside of envelopes containing bill payments.

3. Have the post office hold your mail when you are out of town.

4. Don’t leave mail sitting in an unprotected mail box.

Banking:

1. Use traveler’s checks versus personal checks when traveling.

2. Review monthly bank and credit card statements for mistakes or unfamiliar charges.

3. Have your paychecks directly deposited into your bank account.

4. Avoid providing personal information—account number or password—over the phone or via the Internet.

IF YOU ARE—OR BECOME—A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT, FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): www.ftc.gov or 877.438.4338.

2. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the four major credit bureaus:

3. Close the accounts that have been used fraudulently.

4. File a police report.

5. Keep an identity theft log for your personal records.

6. Contact other agencies that might be involved: Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline (800.269.0271), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (888.877.7644), and the Internal Revenue Service (800.829.0433).

http://www.nelnet.com/uploadedFiles/Home_Content/Financial_Literacy/20093_PS_IdentityTheftFlyer_HRFIN.pdf

Loan Websites

Federal Student Loan Websites

Complete FAFSA® – Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to see what aid may be available to help you pay for college

 

Federal Student Aid– Get ready for college or career school, learn about federal student aid and how to apply using the FAFSA®, and get information on repaying student loans

 

Federal Student Aid: Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation and Discharge– Find out whether you qualify due to your job, disability, the closure of your school, or other circumstances

 

Federal Student Aid: Military Student Loan Benefits– Information Members of the U.S. Armed Forces need to know about your federal student loan benefits

 

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)– Lets you retrieve your loan information for your federally-owned or federally-guaranteed loans including any balances and which company is servicing them

 

StudentLoans.gov– Apply online for Income Driven Repayment plans, consolidate federal student loans, complete your Master Promissory Note, complete entrance and exit counseling, and more

 

U.S. Department of Education– Provides information about the Department’s offices, programs, information and assistance services, funding opportunities, education statistics, publications and more
https://www.mohela.com/DL/resourceCenter/AdditionalResources.aspx

Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

Do you know a high-performing Missouri State-West Plains student looking to transfer to a four-year institution? Does he or she have financial need? If so, please encourage him or her to apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which provides up to $40,000 annually to community college students and recent alumni who will pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. The application is now open and will close December 2. For more information, visit: http://www.jkcf.org/scholarship-programs/undergraduate-transfer/

Scholarship Information

Scholarship Search Tips

In these tough economic times, many families may need additional money to help pay for college. Federal and state financial aid programs may not be enough. Seeking and applying for private scholarships from non-profit foundations and other organizations may provide the extra help needed. Here are some suggestions about how to find legitimate scholarships.

  • “Like” the MDHE’s Facebook page, Journey to College. The MDHE is often notified when new private scholarships are available or when a scholarships’ application period opens, and this information is added immediately to Journey to College.
  • Follow the MDHE’s tweets via Twitter, and have these communications sent to your cell phone. The MDHE communicates scholarship information as well as other resources for students and their families.
  • Ask businesses, community groups, schools, and religious and civic organizations in your local community or state about scholarship opportunities.
  • Check your local library for scholarship books.
  • Keep looking! The more you search, the greater your chances of finding additional programs.

Keep the following tips in mind when using the Internet or a scholarship search organization:

  • Be cautious of scholarship scams. Contact the Federal Trade Commission for more information.
  • Do not provide credit card information to use a free scholarship search.
  • Read the fine print carefully. Many online financial assistance search services request information about you so they can find financial assistance programs for which you may be eligible. Some of these companies may send you information about other services that they provide or sell your information to another company.

www.dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/scholarshipsearchtips.php

Debt Management

Debt Management and Minimization

Many students seek a postsecondary education hoping to improve their career opportunities and financial future. Managing your money while in school is an important part of obtaining the lifestyle you want. However, poor money management, both while in school and after, can mean a large salary going towards debt and not much else.

Follow these steps to make getting your degree, minimizing your debt and repaying your student loans as easy as possible.

For those just beginning a postsecondary program:

  1. Identify your expected after-graduation salary by visiting sites like www.salary.com, as well as job finding services, like www.monster.com or jobs.mo.gov, to determine the demand and compensation for your profession.
  2. Determine how much the degree you want will cost and if you can afford it.
    • Research and compare the total costs for each postsecondary institution you are interested in, including course fees, add-on fees (student health fees, recreation fees, etc.), room and board, etc. The national College Navigator website provides comprehensive cost and program information as well as links to each schools’ net price calculator. The U.S. Department of Education also publishes College Scorecards on postsecondary institutions to help you make an informed decision about which program, degree, or college in which to invest your time and money.
    • Use online calculators, such as the calculator on Mapping Your Future to determine how much student loan debt you can afford (based on your expected future salary) or what salary you will need to pay your student loan debt. A general rule of thumb is to keep student loan payments to 8% of your income.
  1. Develop and follow a budget while getting your degree so you can avoid credit card and other types of debt.
  2. Try to find sources of free funding, such as Pell Grants and scholarships, before borrowing student loans. It is also a good idea to pay for a portion of your college expenses as you go through part-time employment.

Those with a degree or about to graduate should be aware of student loan repayment options. Once you have borrowed a student loan, use the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to access your student loan account and keep track of your total debt. You may also get the information by calling (800) 4-FED-AID.

8 percent rule

Most financial advisors recommend student loan payments not exceed 8% of your monthly gross income. Multiply your estimated gross income (before taxes and other withholdings) by .08. Your student loan payments should not exceed this amount.

http://www.dhe.mo.gov/ppc/studentloans/debtmanagement.php