Financing your future
Financial aid expert shares tips for paying for your college education
By Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell
Going to college is one thing. Paying for it is quite another.
So how does one finance an education these days? It’s not exactly a simple process, but financial aid – money that helps pay for students to attend college or a career school – is a great solution for many families. In fact, Ricardo Montaño, a financial aid technician with Mesa Community College, says even if families can afford to pay out-of-pocket for their students’ education, they still often choose to apply for financial aid to cover additional expenses.
To get things started, a student first needs to be admitted to a college. The next step is to apply online for the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is available every January. The FAFSA is the application used to determine how much financial aid you will qualify for, Montaño says.
“Apply early if possible, submit all necessary paperwork and be sure to follow up with your college’s financial aid office until you see that financial aid listed on your student account,” he says, adding that “early” means by the first Friday in April, although he notes some schools have different deadlines that need to be followed.
Financial aid comes in a variety of forms and from several sources. According to studentaid.gov, the Federal Student Aid office’s website, the federal government’s offerings include:
- Grants – “These typically do not require repayment, provided the student keeps up with their end of the bargain by meeting academic requirements or passing class,” Montaño says. Grants are usually need-based, or awarded to those needing financial assistance. Some of the better-known options include the Federal Pell Grant and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or SEOG Grant. The SEOG is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, due to limited funding, so applying early is recommended. There are also additional other grants, like the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, available to students whose parents served in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11.
- Loans – These are monies that require repayment and do accumulate interest. “Ask yourself if loans are something you have to do or something you’re choosing to do, and be sure to understand how much you will owe later,” he says.
- Work-study programs – These are on-campus jobs for students, who receive a paycheck every two weeks.
The FAFSA website also points out that, along with these three types of aid, some students may also be eligible for tax benefits, scholarships or even loan repayments courtesy of other agencies, such as National Institutes of Health.
Scholarships, of course, are monies that are considered a gift, or “free,” and do not need to be paid back. They vary between need-based and merit-based, which means they are awarded to students who meet specific criteria determined by the donor, like a certain GPA (grade point average) or ethnic background. In addition, some need-based scholarships may require a FAFSA to determine a student’s need. FastWeb is an online resource that helps match students with potential scholarships and the new Mesa Educates U Scholarship is a great opportunity being offered to Mesa residents.
Finally, state governments, private organizations, non-profit organizations and colleges and career schools themselves also are sources of grants and scholarships. The bottom line, Montaño says, is that there is a lot of financial aid out there but none of it will end up in your student account unless you apply for it. So, get started on the FAFSA and get to know the folks in your college’s financial aid office.
“Come in and talk to us,” he says.
Our Take: Whether you’re new to Weight Watchers or have been with us before, chances are you had one main goal in mind when you signed up: Lose weight. So, it’s frustrating when the scale doesn’t cooperate after all your hard work, even if you’re sure you did everything right.
Before we go into what you can do about it, first just take stock for a moment. Everyone on a weight loss program has periods of time when the scale doesn’t seem to cooperate. There are so many possible reasons that you can drive yourself crazy trying to identify them. If you’ve lost weight before, tThink back: Did you have other periods of where your progress slowed, or even stalled weight loss? What helped you then? Many times, it’s just a matter of time, and just like a traffic jam on a highway that inexplicably clears up without any apparent reason, you’re losing weight again. Just stick with the PointsPlus program. Our research has shown, time and time again, that it works.
And secondly, don’t confuse slow weight loss with no weight loss. People following the PointsPlus program can expect to lose between .5 and 2 pounds per week. But for some especially those closer to goal it can be at the bottom of that range, if not a little below it. Give it time. Even .2 of a pound per week adds up to more than 10 pounds in a year.
What you can do about it today
Avoid the first common pitfall
Are you guessing the PointsPlus values of the food you’re eating? Guessing PointsPlus values is a common mistake many of us make. Guessing means you’re not accurately tracking, which isn’t the best set up for success. Go through the packaged food in your pantry, calculate its PointsPlus values and write them on the box with a black marker. Scrutinize nutrition labels and become intimately familiar with the PointsPlus Tracker. Measure out your portions like you’re learning them for the first time in home economics class, and calculate the exact PointsPlus values. Invest in a food scale so you’re not eyeballing what you cheap jerseys think might be only 1 ounce of cheese, but is actually 2 for an extra 3 PointsPlus values!
Even more fundamentally, make sure you’re actually tracking diligently, trying not to let meals or days go by untracked. Be honest with yourself. Are you starting out perfectly, but come the evening getting a little sloppy and maybe “forgetting” the extra little pour of wine?
Perhaps during your first few weeks on the Plan you were focused on tracking your food. Now that paying attention to everything you eat and drink is becoming second nature, you can add more activity to your daily schedule. We recommend getting at least 30 minutes of any type of exercise each day. Walking around the neighborhood, gardening, and cleaning the house all count. Take the activity assessment to get your weekly activity PointsPlus goal, then start using the Activity Tracker make exercise a new healthy habit, and the scale should respond accordingly.
If you’ve settled into a regular exercise routine, perhaps it’s time to get unsettled. Switch up the pace, length, or type of exercise you’re doing. Your body might be accustomed to the same old thing, and stopped shedding pounds like it did when you cheap nfl jerseys first started. You might even be taking it easy without realizing it. Try a new class at the gym or set a new distance goal for your morning jog. Your muscles and your mind will benefit from the break in monotony.
Also, be realistic when you’re tracking your activity PointsPlus values. If you’re keeping up a brisk pace and breathing hard, you’re exercising at moderate intensity. High intensity is when you’re praying for death’s mercy. A 150 pound woman exercising at a high intensity for 30 minutes will earn 5 activity PointsPlus values. At moderate intensity, that number goes down to 2. If you’re not realistic about your intensity level and you’re using the activity PointsPlus values you earn, you could be eating more than twice as cheap nfl jerseys china much food as you should. Most of us exercise at moderate intensity most of the time but if you’re still in doubt, consider using a heart rate monitor for more accurate feedback on cheap jerseys from china your workouts.
Not unlike your workout routine, switching things up goes for what you’re eating, too! Even prison inmates don’t eat the same food day after day, so why would you stick to one menu just because you’re trying to lose weight? Remember: Weight Watchers is not a diet you probably realized that as soon as you started. Having the freedom to eat what we like is one of our favorite parts of the plan, so use that freedom to try new recipes, meals and snacks, as well as treating yourself to old favorites. Figure out the PointsPlus value of your favorite dessert and find a way to work it into your PointsPlus budget. Punch it into the Recipe Builder and look for a healthy substitution. The magic is in the tracking and staying in control.
That said, if the tracking part is tripping you up, then it also might be worth trying the Simply Filling technique for a day or two, especially if you’re going to be travelling or in any other situation in which tracking’s going to be tricky.Articles Connexes：