Financial aid: Your questions answered

By Damon Leake

During the summer, it was a privilege to work at the CCC call center helping students with financial aid questions, showing students how to apply for a loan online, and answering any other questions they had. As time went on and more applications started coming in, I noticed that a lot of students did not have the information they needed to fill out their FAFSA and felt frustrated when the answer that was given was not the answer they wanted to hear.

The first and most important thing that every student should do is to apply early for financial aid. Applying early will ensure that you receive the aid on time. Some students this year applied past the deadline, making it difficult for the financial aid office to get their applications done.

We have a new system if you haven’t noticed called “The Portal” and every student should get to know this system well. The Portal has everything that students need as far as information on their profile, registering for classes, and also financial aid updates. Many students are not aware that they can check their financial aid statuses just like they used to do on Iris. To get to that information, first sign in to portal, the go to the WebAdvisor self service tab, once the tab opens, go to the financial aid tab, and finally go to the financial aid award letter tab. This will let you know if and when you received your financial aid award and how much you were rewarded.

It is also important to get to know your financial aid adviser. Your adviser can help you with any questions you may have and with filling out the FAFSA form. Be sure to have all the information needed before going to meet with your adviser. If you are uncertain what you need, give your adviser a call. Students are also able to check their financial aid status on The Portal just like they did on Iris.

Besides applying for financial aid, some students should consider applying for a student loan if necessary. When you make an appointment with your financial aid adviser, make sure that you ask him or her if it is necessary to apply for a student loan; if so, apply at the same time as you apply for financial aid. Please note to be eligible for a student loan the students have to be enrolled for at least six credits.

Tax transcripts were a big issue this year because the IRS has changed their policies for all colleges in America. In the past, students were able to use their W2 form from their tax preparer to enroll in college but due to the economy stresses in our country, the government now wants official documented proof of taxes. The fastest and easiest way to get your tax transcript is to have it faxed. Note that the IRS will make sure that the document that is being faxed is sent to a secure location and that the student is present at the fax machine, the agent will not send the transcript if he or she feels otherwise. You can also get your tax transcript by driving to the IRS tax office located in Mays Landing, New Jersey. Make sure you have proper ID which can be a valid driver’s license, or a New Jersey Picture ID.

Something that you must understand before calling or coming to the college is that yelling helps no one. It can be frustrating when things are not going as planned, but yelling over the phone or at the front window of the office is not going to make the process move any faster. There are only five people working in the financial aid office trying to process everything by themselves as fast as they can. This is why it is important to have everything handed in on or before the due date.

The people at the call center are there to make things easier for students and to make sure they have   everything they need before hanging up the phone. If there is still a problem after all of your information is handed in, having a relationship with your adviser makes it easier to get to the root of the problem and resolve it. The financial aid office at CCC is here to help you and to make it easier for you to receive the funds that you need. This is Cumberland County College Financial Aid office and how can we help you?

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