Tips From A Financial Aid Counselor On How To Pay For School

Posted by Emily Fix on Friday, October 20, 2017 at 4:13 PM PDT

Student at her desk

 

Seattle University’s School of New and Continuing Studies has a dedicated Financial Aid Counselor, Meisha Wangerin, who can help you through the process. In this interview, we get some of her sage advice for anyone thinking about going back to school.

Tell us a little about you

A little bit about me; I love being outdoors. My husband and I spend much of the summer months in our backyard with our two rescue dogs and six chickens. We have a huge vegetable and herb garden and we love cooking with fresh veggies from our garden (and the fresh eggs). When we aren’t in the backyard we are usually camping, hiking or biking the many trails in the area. I also have a passion for music and social justice and I combine those two passions by being a member of the Seattle Women’s Chorus with 200+ voices we are the largest LGBTQ Ally chorus in the world! If you have time please come check out one of our concerts!

 How long have you worked in financial aid?

This is my 11th year working in financial aid and I’ve been at Seattle University (SU) for a little more than a year.

Who is qualified to apply for financial aid?

Nearly EVERYONE is qualified to apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA. Often time’s people are reluctant to apply for financial aid because they think they won’t qualify for anything. It doesn’t hurt to apply and the application process is pretty quick and easy. Even undocumented students can apply for financial aid from the State of Washington by completing the WASFA.

How do new students start that financial aid process?

I think the best way to start the financial aid process is to complete your FAFSA (or WASFA) and then chat with me- or any of the Financial Aid Counselors here at SU!  We can look up how much in Federal Student Loans you’ve already borrowed at a previous school (if applicable) and let you know how much you have left to borrow.

Do students have to apply for financial aid every year? Even in the summer?

Students have to reapply for financial aid EVERY YEAR. The FAFSA for the following year is available as of October 1st so don’t hesitate to complete your FAFSA. For summer, you will need to complete the FAFSA as well as the Seattle University Summer Financial Aid Application (usually available in May). Some programs aren’t eligible for financial aid in Summer so be sure to speak with me or any of our Financial Aid Counselors if you want to take classes in summer to see if financial aid will be available.

What are some common misconceptions and/or fears about the financial aid process?

 I think many students have had a negative experience with financial aid in the past so they are afraid to ask questions. Everyone in Student Financial Services is here to help you succeed! Ask lots of question from the start so together we can make a plan for success!

 Financial aid paperwork can be a bit daunting, what can a student do if they have questions?

 If a student has questions about filling out the financial aid paperwork they can give us a call at 206-220-8020, email us at financialservices@seattleu.edu or stop by the Student Financial Services desk to chat with one of our Redhawk Axis Counselors. We also have walk-in hours daily. Mon/Tue 9am-3pm and 4:30pm-6pm, and Wed/Thu/Fri 9am-3pm.

What can a student do if they have a change in their financial situation?

In some cases, a change in household income MAY result in the student being eligible for additional Federal Financial Aid. If there has been a drastic reduction in your household income (after you fill out the FAFSA) please contact me or any of the Financial Aid Counselors to discuss if an appeal for additional aid might be appropriate.

Outside of federal aid and personal income, do you have any other resources that could help students pay for school?

Many of our students will take out a Private Educational Loan to help them pay for school. You can find out more information about Private Educational Loans on our website at: https://www.seattleu.edu/financial-aid/loans/private-educational-loans/

Seattle University also offers quarterly payment plans. You can find out more information about our payment plans on our website at: https://www.seattleu.edu/student-payment/paying-my-bill/payment-plans/

Students can also find information about applying for Outside Scholarships on our website at: https://www.seattleu.edu/media/redhawk-axis/sfs/15-Exploring-Outside-Scholarshipsd125.pdf