Keeping Up With Your Financial Aid

It’s always nice to benefit from a good amount of financial aid, but if you’re a college student of two or more years, then you’ve probably had your fair share of difficulty and miscommunication when it comes to your school’s financial aid and/or cashier’s office. In my experience, I’ve had numerous amounts of problems and mispayments when it came to my school account and certain charges pertaining to it. For this reason, I’ve decided to lend a piece of advice to future or current students before or if it happens to you.


Check Before School Starts

An obvious and I hope, known ritual for most college students would be checking your account inquiry before school starts. In many moments I prefer to do this when half the summer has come and gone and there’s only a month of two left before classes begin. Sometimes I even go to the extremes and check out everything once a semester ends. This is a particularly important strategy for the mere reason that some schools like to add on more paperwork that coincides with more money out of your account once a semester ends. It also helps to check your account about two weeks before school starts. I know I’ve had my fair share of, “for some reason, we don’t have on record that you finished ‘said paperwork,’ therefore you will most likely receive your refund money late.” There have even been worse moments where they send me that notification too late for me to deal with.

Which leads me to new and old payments advice. Always make sure your old payments are set and over, that the financial aid office won’t be contacting you any further about them. For new payments, constantly make sure you’re on our ‘A’ game in terms of keeping yourself up to date and satisfied knowing you’ve done everything you can.

With all that checking and processing done, there’s nothing wrong with participating in a little early bird action by checking your textbook prices a couple of weeks before classes start. I’ve found that knowing the prices of my textbooks helps me already become self-assured in knowing the amount of money I’ll need for the upcoming semester.


Calculate Your Refund

The smartest thing you can do. Now that you know the overall amount you may be spending on textbooks, school supplies, and at-home-needs, go back to your account and look at the guesstimated amount of refund your school is sending you. Use this information to, as you guessed it, calculate just how much you’re going to spend. I always try to make sure there is an even split between my at-home-needs and my school supplies/textbooks.


Always Ask Questions

Never just say ‘ok.’ When you’re on the phone with the financial aid or cashier’s office and you don’t understand what they are telling you, never just say ok. Ninety percent of the time, both offices are constantly getting calls from students concerning their accounts and questionable payments. This, in turn, leads a lot of on-call helpers becoming annoyed and frustrated. I’ve had my fair share of irritated student services that do as much as possible to get you off the phone.

A great example was the time I became uneasy about a payment added onto my school account and as a response, the on-call helper replied, “it’s just an extra school payment.” Instead of answering with an ‘okay,’ I asked her to explain what the school payment was, what it was needed for, and why it coming up in the middle of summer when I had no summer classes. Though I understood her frustration even if it’s a school payment, students need be informed just specifically what they’re paying for and why. Just to justify, no, there wasn’t a school announcement about this extra payment being added to the new semester.

Sometimes it’s new payments, sometimes it’s old, sometimes it’s just wondering why or how long your account progress is going to be in standing. Doesn’t matter what issue it is; it is their job to help you understand it.

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