Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
or university costs may be expensive for many families, but there are
steps parents and students can take now to help make education more
affordable, according to personnel from the University of Wisconsin-La
Crosse (UW-La Crosse) Financial Aid Office.
Vernell Glenn of the University
of Wisconsin-La Crosse Financial Aid Office talks about student
financial aid sources at a Fort McCoy workshop. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
Glenn and Sharyn Lehrke of UW-La Crosse spoke at a Feb. 6 financial
aid workshop at Fort McCoy, which was sponsored by the Fort McCoy Army
Community Service (ACS) Financial Readiness Program. Glenn works as a
financial aid counselor/student employment coordinator/student
financial aid/enrollment services for UW-La Crosse. Lehrke is the
Veterans Benefits Coordinator for UW-La Crosse.
pair presented information to help workshop attendees learn about the
process that is used to determine how financial aid is provided to
help students attend college.
first step is to determine your financial needs," Glenn said.
"This is figured by subtracting the expected family contribution
from the cost of attendance."
needs can be met in a variety of ways. First, parents and/or students
need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
form, which can be done online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
aid opportunities include scholarships and grants that don’t have to
be repaid. Students also may be able to qualify for work, such as
through work-study programs, he said. These are good because the
federal government subsidizes the wages of work-study participants and
makes it more advantageous to hire students to do the work.
costs often can be paid through savings and/or loans that either
students or parents can set aside or qualify for and obtain. Students
and their parents can save money for higher education costs through
Coverall Educational Savings Accounts or a 529 account. Money in these
accounts accrues interest and can be withdrawn and spent — if done
in accordance with terms and used for qualifying expenses — without
paying federal taxes. The 529s are state plans that also may offer
state tax advantages, in addition to the federal tax benefits, if used
cautioned both parties to be aware of the terms of the various loans
available, such as when interest starts accruing and when repayment
begins and if they require a co-signer.
students would be able to make it through college without taking out
any loans," he said. "But if they need to borrow money, they
should borrow just enough to pay for their education."
common fallacy of higher education is that it doesn’t pay to apply
for smaller scholarship amounts, he said.
should apply for as many scholarships as possible," Glenn said.
"Any scholarship amount you receive means that’s less you or
your parents have to pay for your education."
did caution parents/students that scholarships may reduce the amount
they have identified as financial need or resources they may be
eligible to receive. The first assistance that would be reduced is
money available through loans.
also should be on the lookout for money/funding that is often under
the radar screen.
organizations or churches, for example, may decide to set money aside
for higher education for qualified students. Private employers may
have programs that provide funding for educational costs for children
of their employees.
institutions, including UW-La Crosse, have foundations that provide
aid. More information about the UW-La Crosse foundation is available
general Web site for UW-La Crosse financial aid at http://www.uwlax.edu/finaid
also includes a financial cost calculator, Glenn said.
and parents on a tight budget also shouldn’t eliminate out-of-state
educational opportunities just because they have high price tags for
financial aid or reciprocity agreements can lower college costs enough
to make them affordable to families.
agreements, which allow nonresident students to pay resident costs of
their comparable state colleges, most often are found between border
states, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
said military personnel and their families also have many specialized
programs that can assist them with college costs.
GI Bill is available to eligible veterans. Effective Aug. 1, personnel
who served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, will be eligible for
the Post 9-11 GI Bill. The Department of Veterans Affairs is
developing guidelines to manage how the programs will interact.
or family members may be eligible to use benefits if their veteran
spouses have a disability rating of 30 percent or more. Veterans who
entered service from Wisconsin may be eligible for benefits under the
Wisconsin GI Bill.
process starts at almost every institution by seeing someone like
me," Lehrke said. "Many of the applications can be done
Clarkin, ACS Financial Readiness Program director, said ACS sponsored
the workshop to provide support to the Fort McCoy community about a
very important issue.
workshop showed our realization and support of the importance of
having a well-educated and trained work force," Clarkin said.
"Education also provides spouses and family members with
opportunities for growth and development."
(See related story)