Manassas Journal Messenger | Q&A with the experts

  • How do you avoid financial aid scams?

A student told me recently that her family paid $1,000 for a guaranteed minimum of an additional $5,000 in aid. It was a scam, and the family lost their $1,000 and did not receive a penny of additional aid. Sadly, there is a wide variety of financial aid scams and you will want to be alert. Visit this Web site for more scam details: . If you are offered guaranteed results or you are promised specific levels of funding, do some investigation and proceed cautiously. If you are in doubt about any financial aid offer or opportunity, speak with someone in a college financial aid office or guidance counselor. Lisa Branson, executive director of admissions and financial aid at Mary Baldwin College, Staunton

  • What important points should we know about financial aid?

Students must file a new aid application for each year that they are in college. If the family has or thinks it has a special situation not considered in the aid application, the student/parent should contact the aid office to see if an adjustment can be made. Also, continued eligibility for aid requires that the student make satisfactory academic progress (SAP). A student should know the SAP criteria in effect at his/her school. Finally, financial aid can be the most confusing part of going to college, so don’t be afraid to ask for help it’s free. Susan Kadir, director of financial aid, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

  • Is there ever a time when you filled out your FAFSA, but your government loan doesn’t cover it all? What are your options in that scenario: There are so many different ways to help cover the costs of a college education, this really should never happen. There are affordable parent loan programs that offer low interest repayment terms and tax credits. There are private educational loan programs to help cover the gap between what students are eligible for in terms of student loans and the cost of college. There are also payment plans and free Internet-based scholarship search programs. And most colleges offer some sort of institutional aid to help make the college experience affordable. Russell D. Necessary, vice chancellor for enrollment management, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
  • Where do you go for help, getting guidance to help you through the process?

Schedule an appointment with a financial aid adviser at your college or university of choice. The financial aid adviser will assist in planning for your education and give you the various financial aid options available in regard to paying for your education. Be sure to attend financial aid application process sessions and Financial Aid Awareness Week activities, offered throughout the year at various colleges and universities, to learn more about the availability of financial aid. Kevin Burns, director of financial aid, Norfolk State University, Norfolk

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