Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.
Imagine going to college full-time and all of your college costs – tuition & fees for courses and books and supplies – are paid for through the financial aid awards (federal and state) provided to you. Now imagine on top of that, there is money awarded to you, called a refund, which gets sent to you or deposited into your bank account, or applied to what is called a Brookdale OneCard – essentially a debit card!
Imagine this happens each term you are enrolled, and you elect to have that refund deposited into your bank account – that’s close to $2,000 per term, or $4,000 per school year, that is made available to you after all of your college costs are paid for through your financial aid awards!
Now imagine there are two offices at Brookdale -the Financial Aid Office and EOF – and the staff who work in these offices are prepared to assist you with getting all your financial aid processing done – to guide you through every stage of the process. It’s a fact. We will do everything we can to help you arrive at a point where all has been done correctly, and the financial aid comes in.
The financial aid process when completed can provide great benefits to paying for your education, but it is a complicated and often frustrating experience for many students.
Imagine you create an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid Identifier) so you can then complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). To do this you had to access these on-line and read through all the instructions and answer a large number of questions, and in the process you are scratching your head because there are times you don’t understand what is being asked, or you don’t answer certain questions because you either overlooked the questions or you did not have the information needed. (Be advised–completion of the FAFSA requires you to provide your and or your parents financial information for a given year and often federal tax forms are needed or other income documents.)
Is this starting to seem a bit complicated?
Now take it further. You have your FSA ID and the FAFSA is completed, as you did have the necessary financial documents. You get to the end of the FAFSA and before closing there are additional questions that you may elect to answer but do not have to. You plowed through the FAFSA; you did your best, and now you have the opportunity to end the frustration.
But you are not done. There are questions specific to the state of New Jersey and its financial aid programs- questions which when answered can lead to eligibility for state grants totalling over $4,000 per school year. Remember the mention of that refund available to you after all your college costs were paid for? Much of if not all of that will never be seen-unless you answer those questions.
Now, by no stretch of the imagination is a FAFSA when submitted always complete. Often items are not completed and so the review process for determining aid eligibility moves into limbo- it stops. Now you start getting notices, email and by snail mail, and you are provided the opportunity to know what must be done to get you on track- remember the train is no longer running!
Here we go- problem fixing may mean calling the FAFSA hotline- 1-800-433-3243, or you may elect to go back into your FAFSA to make corrections, and if trying to fix a state-related concern you may create a HESAA (Higher Education Student Assistance Authority) account. Maybe you decide to call HESAA to get some explanation and find your wait time due to high call volume is a long one- and maybe you decide to try again another day.
Let’s assume you have taken care of all in front of you. You think you done and now all available aid you are eligible for should start coming in. All the problems at this point have been fixed. This is a wonderful position to be in-but hold on. This has to be mentioned: Brookdale decides to place you under verification; maybe the state decides to place you under verification – nothing is awarded to you when you are under verification. This means there are even more documents that you must provide to establish your income and assets and forms you must complete and submit.
Financial aid processing is a federal, state, Brookdale, and yes, an EOF process. EOF must have on record income documentation to establish eligibility for its state grant-and by the way if you are incomplete with the state and even if EOF has income documentation you submitted you can’t be awarded the EOF state grant ($1,050 per school year). If you are an EOF first time applicant and, if you can’t be awarded the EOF state grant, you can’t enter our EOF program.
SO TO THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS-you must work hard and in a timely manner to get through the financial aid process. It is complicated. Please take your financial aid processing seriously but also know you have professionals at Brookdale available to you for assistance. Respond to what needs to be done quickly, do not wait, do not procrastinate-and work with both the Financial Aid Office and EOF.
New applicants to the program-safeguard your program enrollment! Remember, all state processing must be completed and that is where the challenge intensifies for some. No state completion=no state funding (loss of up to $4,000 more in aid), and EOF program enrollment is a lost opportunity.