Office of Financial Aid breaks down FAFSA process

Veronica Martin, Contributing Writer

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid and loans are starting to be processed by Eastern’s financial aid coordinators.

Amanda Starwalt, financial aid director, is responsible for how much money students receive in grants and loans. She also decides how much money is distributed to each student.

“I not only manage the office and staff and oversee all of the financial aid processes, I also enter awards, make revisions and work closely with the foundation on scholarships,” Starwalt said. “I sit on different committees across campus to assist with recruitment, retention and new programs related to enrollment management.”

The first step to applying for financial aid is completing the FAFSA each year.

The information on the FAFSA helps to determine what aid a student is eligible for.

Eastern awards students federal, state and institutional aid based on the FAFSA information.

These funds include Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Monetary Award Program Grant and awards from Eastern such as Access to Education.

Starwalt said it is important to file the FAFSA as early as possible after Oct. 1 and to follow up with the financial aid office to review any requests for additional documents.

Delays in submitting requested forms could result in loss of aid, since there is a limited amount of funds awarded, Starwalt said.

Many scholarship deadlines are due in early spring.

Joshua Caver, a sophomore business and management major, said he does not have a direct understanding of how financial aid works.

Caver said he does not understand why some students are granted more money than others and wants to know what the deadlines are to filing a FAFSA.

“I think students need more of an explanation about loans so they can make the best decisions for themselves financially,” Caver said.

Alaina Bisch, a senior family and consumer science senior, said the financial aid coordinators were helpful when she went to see them.

Bisch did not have any problems or confusion with financial aid and loans because of financial aid assistance she receives from her parents.

“My only concern is the interest rate from my student loans,” Bisch said. “How much time does my family and I have to pay it back?”

The minimum hour curriculum required to receive financial aid and loans is six credit hours. Other types of aid require different enrollment.

The Pell Grant requires at least one hour, depending on the student’s Expected Family Contribution from FAFSA. The MAP grant requires three hours and loans require at least six hours.

Institutional aid, such as Panther Promise, A2E, Commitment to Excellence and others require 12 hours and continuous full time enrollment.

There are also federal loans, he subsidized and unsubsidized loan, that are available to students.

The subsidized loan is interest free while the student is enrolled in school.

The government subsidizes the interest for the student while they are in school.

Interest begins on the unsubsidized loan from the time it is paid to the student’s account.

Starwalt advises students to keep up with the financial aid and loan deadlines to avoid limited funds.

“Students need to keep in mind that everything has a time limit. It all depends on you,” Starwalt said.

Veronica Martin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]