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Financial Aid 101

What some students don’t realize is that they may be qualified for financial aid and eligible for winning a scholarship.

Filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to getting access to financial aid. If an individual is qualified, they may receive a grant, fee waiver, work-study job, or loan.

Generally, most students are eligible.

Some basic requirements for financial assistance includes being enrolled in a certain amount of units and obtaining a satisfactory academic progress.

Daniel Luiz, a student at Palomar majoring in kinesiology was shocked to find out that not everyone takes advantage of what financial aid has to offer.

“I mean, it’s common sense. Why would you pay more for school when you can probably get help with it? They can do what they want. I would rather use that extra money to buy food though,” Luiz said.

Palomar College officials also encourage students to apply for scholarships even if they think they may not be qualified.

Scholarships initially focus on merit-based performance. This means that a scholarship can be earned by simply meeting academic achievement standards or by having a certain background.

If you are someone with a 2.8 GPA who has a declared major, and are enrolled in at least 6 units or more, there may be a scholarship out there for you.

Angelina Arzate, Palomar’s financial aid systems module functional specialist said that there are between 200 to 300 people applying for scholarships.

Depending on the scholarship, winners have the opportunity to win between $250 to $1,500. Scholarships that exceed over $500 are typically divided into payments for two semesters.

On Palomar College’s financial aid website, there are dozens of scholarships listed in an online booklet along with the criteria for each scholarship.

 

Each scholarship is different, but a majority of the ones listed had some basic requirements in common:

 

  1. Must be enrolled at Palomar College for specified semesters. The number of units vary depending on each scholarship.
  2. Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (although some scholarships require a 2.0 or higher)
  3. Demonstrate financial need
  4. Must have completed at least 24 units of degree-applicable study
  5. US citizen or non-eligible citizen

 

Applications typically ask for personal information, education, volunteer and work history. Students can apply for as many scholarships as they want, but applying for local scholarships will give them a better chance at winning. This is because there are lesser applicants compared to the state and national level.

Mari Harms, Palomar’s financial aid specialist said that she agrees that there is a stigma when it comes to how competitive winning a scholarship can be.

“It’s because we only have a certain amount of funds, you know. It’s based on your essays, your reference letter, all the previous classes you’ve taken. If you do have all of those, your chances of getting it are better,” Harms said.

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