By Liz VandenHeede
Beginning college has a lot of new challenges. Right up there with scheduling classes, navigating campus and transitioning to dorm life, is figuring out financial aid). Paying for college can be one of the hardest parts of making it through the next four or five years.
Western Michigan University financial aid staff agree on two tips that will make the financial aid process better and easier – plan for it and work hard to understand it.
“Start early with planning. Students can avoid troubles when they do that,” said Mark Delorey, WMU director of student financial aid. “You have to figure what’s coming in (aid, scholarships, etc) and what’s going out (loan interest, rent, etc).”
Delorey advises spending the time to carefully research the amount of aid actually needed. He said two of the biggest financial aid obstacles students face are taking out more loans than needed and not concentrating on school in order to get through in the time required for their degree.
“Be cautious, we have people that borrow more than they need,” Delorey said. “The best way to keep debt down is to graduate in four years.”
He said in order to keep grades and performance up, school needs to be the main focus.
“Finding the balance between work and school is becoming a big struggle,” Delorey said. He advises spending the time to carefully research the amount of financial aid actually needed and the best ways to get it.