It’s All Greek to Us

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Jessica Adams, Staff Reporter

Financial Aid is a grueling process for new college students. Shawnee’s Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Charlotte Hardy, has extensive knowledge of the financial aid process, “It’s Greek to most people.” Hardy states. If any student wants to know the process of financial aid, Hardy is knowledgeable in these aspects. The employees in Shawnee’s Financial Aid Office are knowledgeable, but Charlotte Hardy has in-depth information sometimes required when facing problems with the financial aid process. Hardy adds, “When having problems with the verification process or tax returns that are incorrect, we are not here to make the process difficult. We are required to verify all this information so that the Department of Education allow us to give students grants, pell grants and loans.”

The first requirement in the financial aid process is completing the FASFA form, which requires tax information of students and their parents. Students are also required to include their school codes on the FASFA form in order for the selected schools registered to process their loans. After the FASFA form is processed, students must either accept or decline the loans, completed through Shawnee’s webpage myssu.edu under the notifications tab. The amount of loans is largely based on individual eligibility, including the annual income of the student and their parents. Eligibility is further determined by whether a student is labeled independent or dependent. An independent student is over the age of twenty-four years old and are not required to include their parents’ tax information, only their own. A dependent student is defined as a student under the age of twenty-four years old and must include their parents’ tax information on their FASFA form.

The dreaded process is when a chosen student is required to verify their income with various documentation. It is ideal to check for notifications on Shawnee’s website often during this processing. “These [requirements] can include tax returns from your working year in addition to your parents, [a] verification worksheet, W-2’s [of] child support payment statements, SSI check stubs, Selective Service [documents], high school transcripts and complete high school transcripts with [a] graduation date.” Hardy suggests. These are not the only forms of documentation that can be asked for, as this part of the verification process is more individualized as to what the Department of Education is attempting to verify.

The verification worksheet is a form verifying household income. This worksheet verifies basic contact information including the name, date, phone number, and identification number of the student. The worksheet gives two boxes to check to label the student as an independent or dependent. At the bottom of the first sheet, it asks for the number of people living in the student’s household; this includes the name, age, relationship and the college attended (if any) of a family member. The second page asks for a student’s name and identification number, knowledge of tax filers and non-tax filers, the annual income of all adults in the household, and lastly the signature of the student and parents. For more information, visit: https://www.shawnee.edu/sites/default/files/2019-01/VerificationWorksheet-1-19-20-Live.pdf.

The time spent filling out financial aid documents can vary on many factors, with the student’s position in the school being a major factor. The first loans to be processed are seniors. Filing the paperwork for financial aid as early as possible gives way to a speedy process as Hardy describes, “When a student is chosen for verification, the sooner the documentation is turned in the sooner the process will be completed.” Once the FASFA form is processed, the Department of Education sends a clean aid package that can then be processed by the school then provided to the student.

Financial aid is a process requiring much time. New students should start as early as possible to ensure a painless process. Charlotte Hardy is right about the process being Greek to most people never having dealt with the process previously. The FASFA form is one of the most important documents that is needed to determine eligibility for financial aid. This ensures students are able to have their tuition cost under control. The processing time for financial aid is based on an individual basis, as the sooner all forms are submitted, the smoother the process will be.