Saturday, February 12, 2011

Students need to take initiative with financial aid

The article “Breaking News: Report on UA states the obvious” in the February 8 edition of The Northern Light reflected a general dissatisfaction among students at UAA in several areas. As the article stated, we hate our parking and food choices. Okay, I can accept that one. I don’t like trolling the parking lot like a shark for a spot any more than the next person, and sometimes I don’t like my options of Subway versus Chinese in the Union. But when the UA report finds that students are dissatisfied with their financial aid assistance, and the article backs up the report with a student opinion agreeing with it, I had to stop and scratch my head for a moment.
            Yes, I’ve been frustrated with my financial aid. Yes, I agree that the University could use some improvement in this area. What irks me is the following quote from a UAA student: “They need to go to each student individually and then talk to them because I didn’t even know about how to go to financial aid…They’re just not being aggressive enough.”
            If this is the general student opinion regarding financial aid, then we have a problem. And I don’t mean “we” as in UAA—I mean “we” as in us students. Time to wake up, everyone. We’re in college now, and it’s time to start taking responsibility for our own education and our lives. I’ve never “not known” about the FAFSA. Flyers everywhere around campus tell us not only when the deadline is, but where to go and who to contact if we have questions. The University sponsors workshops to aid in filling out FAFSAs, and whenever I’ve had issues with my financial aid, my emails have been responded to promptly and the staff at the financial aid office work diligently to assist me.
            The student edition of the Green and Gold Daily always posts information regarding the FAFSA, as well as other important financial aid info such as available scholarships and their deadlines. Flyers litter the Student Union and the Sky Bridge. Pick any bulletin board on campus, and I bet there’s some information regarding financial aid and scholarships.

Case in point: These flyers urged students not to "monkey
around" and to submit their general scholarship essay by Feb.
15, littering every table in the Consortium Library this week.

The information is out there, folks, and just because it’s not popping up as a personalized ad on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s not within reach. As young adults, it’s our responsibility to seek out information pertinent to our educational goals, and that means figuring out financial aid. If we start actively participating in the process, we the students can bridge the gap between our needs and available financial aid resources.
            The University is not our enemy. They want us to succeed. They want us to graduate. But it’s time we start taking more responsibility as students in the financial aid process and start seeking out the resources available to us instead of waiting for them to arrive on a silver spoon.


  1. I agree with this article fully. I do, however, believe that when students go to their advisers/counselors at the University Center, those advisers should have accurate information on what scholarships are out there, what the student in question is qualified to receive and what web-sites or places the students can go to apply for outside scholarship assistance. I can say from personal experience that UAA is sadly lacking expertise in these areas (or they do not care enough about the students to spend the time necessary to help financially struggling students to connect to much-needed outside assistance/services).