So, You Want to Talk About Financial Aid?
You’ve come to the right place—a safe space to talk about making money moves, Dear Reader. As a high school senior, applying to colleges is a hard decision to make. A campus can have your program, your sport, the atmosphere you’re looking for, and still cost a fortune. For a moment in time, that’s what Arcadia was like for me.
When I stepped onto Arcadia’s campus three years ago, I knew I was home, but I also knew that it was a private university and I had to backtrack. I’m a student who has worked my whole life, but never worked to pay an entire tuition. In high school, they taught me Calculus, Composition, APUSH, all great things, but a lot of schools never really taught us how to apply for a loan, the ins and outs of FAFSA, how to look up scholarships related to you or your area of study, and that’s the kind information that you need to know when you’re preparing for college. Financial aid is the be-all end-all for a lot of students when deciding where they’re going to continue their education, so let me tell you about ours.
I grew up in the public and charter schools of Philly and Chester County, so having to pay for school was an extreme adjustment for me, like many others. Once you apply for financial aid at Arcadia, they will send you a financial aid package based on your FAFSA records and other financial situations you have informed them of. I will scream this to the mountaintops, but filling out your FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the first thing you must do, and get this, you have to do it every year. FAFSA opens each year on October 1 and is an application that views your income, tax records, and sends it right to the universities you are applying to, or where you have decided to go. Despite the deadline, it’s extremely important to fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute, because the sooner you fill out the application, the more time you give yourself to ask questions and make necessary decisions.
Once Arcadia has received all of your information, the University can determine whether you qualify for a merit-based scholarship, need-based grant, and many other forms of aid! From the federal standpoint, students are granted federal loans and grants, but many students also take advantage of federal work-study. Students who receive work-study in their packages have the opportunity to secure a job on campus through their major department, a job that is similar to the profession they would like to pursue, or something that is fun and worthwhile. Once a student qualifies for work-study, our One-Stop Shop will send students a survey to gauge their interests and pair them with a similar job opening on campus, or students can actively apply and see which departments are hiring! Currently, I am an Enrollment Management Student Assistant, an Arcadia Ambassador, a blogger for Because Arcadia, and, finally, an intern for University Relations, and from all of these positions I have learned so much, and obtained so many skills that will be amazing assets in my future career.
As someone who wants to be a teacher, I am always looking to share resources with incoming or current students. It is important to receive as much aid as you might need, so do your research! Look up scholarships that are centered around your area, that focus on a specific talent or program that you’re interested in, that invest in your ethnicity or gender. There are so many things out there! One myth about college is that once tuition payments are due, you have to pay them by that date. But here at Arcadia, our Financial Aid Office offers payment plans for students to opt into for each semester. Of course, no amount of financial aid can address managing your other expenses, too. Financial Aid holds a session three or four times a semester called “Common Cent$” (pictured in header) that helps students better their financial literacy and make sound financial decisions in college and in their futures. It’s one of my favorite seminars to go to because they usually have Chipotle cater AND offer prizes.
Financial aid can be an extremely complicated thing to navigate, on top of navigating college searches or being in college. As a student here at Arcadia, I can say that I have taken as many opportunities to secure as much aid as possible to pay for college in a sustainable way, and that’s because of the research and steps I have taken through our department and outside grants and scholarships to make it where I am today. Invest in your education, and you will be that change that people want to see in this world.
For more information on how to start or continue your education here at Arcadia with the help that you need, visit Arcadia Financial Aid & Scholarships. If you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in any way financially, the Financial Aid Office asks you to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can work with you or your family through your situation.