The Summer Jobs interns met with Daniel Forster, the VP of Enrollment Management at Westfield State University earlier in the month. Forster is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and he described the types of financial aid available, guided the interns through determining the actual cost of attending different universities, and provided important tips for completing the FAFSA.
With approximately half of the interns headed to college this fall and the other half considering their options as they apply in the next few months, the presentation was peppered with questions. From scholarships for left-handed people or those with the last name Zolp to corporate grants and federal and private loan options, there are many ways for students to obtain funds for tuition. Forster reminded the interns that all of these sources have different applications and terms & conditions. It’s important to apply to as many scholarships as possible and to seek out scholarship and grant sources before turning to loans.
At the start of the seminar, Forster described the various higher ed institutions he’s worked for over the past 28 years, including Simmons College and Wheelock College. After hearing about the many components of financial aid and the steps students can take to ensure they’re covered for college, one intern asked Forster what he felt was the biggest takeaway from his presentation. “Do not borrow more than you need,” he responded. Forster explained that many fall into the trap of borrowing more from a private loan institution than they really need to while attending college. Instead, he recommended searching and applying to scholarship programs and saving as much as possible from summer employment. Any amount paid up front is going to be better than paying that amount back later, with interest.