August Kafer, Financial Aid Administrator and Assistant, Sheron Barnett
by Ryan Norman
During the first couple weeks of a new semester a person can count on hearing the financial aid blues bellowing through the hallways from students who didn’t get a check on time, or had something missing on the application. Who could forget standing in the vast line of people waiting your turn to see if someone can possibly figure out this headache? For some reason the financial aid headache vanishes between the time when the checks gets grabbed out of the mailbox and the trip to the bank. Of course I’m sure we all spend this money wisely, right? This is a common debate through out the campus from all the rules, deadlines and dependency that follow awarded aid; it’s bound to ignite a heated debate.
Use your financial aid awards strategically. Don’t take more money because it’s available. This money awarded to us is not a paycheck; it is a commitment. The U.S. Department of Federal Student Aid programs are the largest source of student aid in America. The types of aid are made up of need-based aid, and non-need based aid. Non-need based is performance based more commonly. While need- based consists of the Pell Grant, WV higher Education Grant and work-study packages. Direct Loans for a unsubsidized loan and subsidized loan. These programs provide more then $150 billion dollars a year in grants, loans, etc. Although the U.S. Department of Federal Student Aid is the largest, yet it’s far from the only source available most non federal aid programs requirements tend to very from school to school.
WVU-Parkersburg is awarded $44 million dollars this year in aid; we have accepted $22 million dollars alone this semester. A good reference for different forms of aid visit www.fastweb.com
While working on this segment I had a chance to talk with August Kaffer, the financial aid administrator here at WVU-Parkersburg. August answered a few questions regarding the awarded aid and how it works. August who has spent over 20 years helping students by combining various forms of aid to assist in paying for schooling? I asked August in the opening interview “In your experience are there any financial aid tips you would like to share?” He sharply said, “Apply early, and apply with correct information.” The school on an average has at least thirty percent of its student body each semester gets looked at for errors, the federal government calls this verification. During the interview we began to discuss the deadlines for applying for this much needed aid. Did you know that it is already time to sign up for financial aid for next fall semester? August made a great point when he said “be proactive, rather then reactive.” It is our jobs as students to complete this on time and correctly. Aim for three months before the semester starts.
In the later part of the interview the topic came up of applying for the award through www.fasfa.gov, nevertheless; be careful to make sure you are on the correct website. Some students at the University of Tennessee created a website called www.fasfa.com, so please do not get confused If you have to pay for the application you know you’ve found yourself on the wrong site.
The federal government has tried to take these students to court, but the federal government lost on their home field due to the fact that the students of Tennessee legally purchased the name.
August had awarded aid to help with school when he was a student, but not all of it likes some of us. August got a job soon after his first semester and decided he was going to work to make money to help pay for tuition while doing his best to save what he could of the award. When the question arose“what would you do if he was in our shoes and received financial aid again, and if he believe students spend their aid correctly?” August replied, “I’ve been there before. You have got to save what you can. I believe some students do and I know others do not. The ones who do not are hurting only themselves in the end. It’s like having just enough rope to hang yourself; it will eventually catch up to you”.
We are facing some changes regarding the way WVU-P reviews its financial aid applicants in the upcoming future. Their new system involves moderating grades of the students each semester, rather then once a year. Also in this change the appeal reviewing process will become much tougher. “The age of ‘I was young and dumb era’ is coming to an end.” August said.