Decoding Financial Aid

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As you begin the process of applying to college, you will notice that college and university financial offices tend to have a vocabulary all their own.  Don’t panic!  It is completely normal and to be expected, so don’t be intimidated and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification if at any point you feel confused. 

Acronyms in particular tend to be intimidating.  Seeing a string of capital letters popping out at you from the page can make you wonder if you’re actually reading English!  Don’t let it shake you!  Very often, once you know what words the letters represent, the meaning becomes clear without any further explanation.  Think of them as the text abbreviations of the financial aid world.  Most young people recognize acronyms like LOL, TBT, TBH, etc., because these are used often in everyday messaging.  If you take the time to familiarize yourself with a few basic financial acronyms, the mystery of it all will disappear and you’ll feel much more confident when it comes time to discuss your options with your school’s financial advisor.

Three very common acronyms that are used when discussing the financial side of college life are FAFSA, COA, and EFC.  You may have already come across these since they are frequently mentioned during the admission process.

 

FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid

This is a form that enables you to determine how much financial aid you can receive from the federal government*.  The form can be completed entirely online from the comfort of your own home by visiting fafsa.ed.gov or you can check out their app: myStudentAid. You will need to have some documents handy in order to complete this form – go ahead and view the list here so you know what to expect.

(By the way, any NEW student at TBC who completes and submits their FAFSA by November 1, 2018 is eligible for a $500 scholarship!  If this applies to you – don’t miss out!)

 

COA = Cost of Attendance

Your cost of attendance includes direct education expenses (tuition, fees, etc.) at your college of choice plus estimates for indirect expenses associated with your college education.  Financial aid offices develop COAs by student classification: campus resident students, commuter students, etc.  All students in a certain classification will have the same COA.

Typically, your COA will include:

  • Tuition
  • Miscellaneous fees (registration fee, graduation fee, etc.)
  • Meal plans/food
  • Housing costs
  • Textbooks
  • School supplies (computer, printer, materials for projects, etc)
  • Transportation

 

EFC = Expected Family Contribution

The EFC is a measure of how much the student and his or her family can be expected to contribute toward the student’s COA for a given academic year. Each school’s financial aid office uses your EFC to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school.  Your Federal Student Aid eligibility should be the same at all schools.

If you would like to dig a little deeper into how your EFC is calculated, you can learn more here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated

We hope this helps as you move forward in your college search and application adventure.  We wish you all the best!  Please do not hesitate to contact us at Trinity Baptist College if you have any questions we can help answer.  You can email us at financialaid@tbc.edu or call us at 904-596-2451.

 

*and under which category your eligibility falls: need-based or non-need-based.

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What does a budget do? {Or: How to eat churros instead of gas money.}

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Budgeting.  What emotion do you associate with that word?  Boredom?  Fear?  Stress?

It should make you feel secure.  In control.  Confident, even.

There is a misconception floating around that budgets are restrictive.  That they zap all the joy out of life and limit your dreams.  That they make you give up your churro addiction. Continue reading

What’s the difference between grants and scholarships?

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Are grants and scholarships two different ways to say the same thing?  Or are they actually different?

This is a question that may be rolling around in your mind as you look ahead to your college search.  The world of financial aid can sometimes sound confusing and intimidating.  The truth is that minimal research on your part can answer most of your questions.  Financial aid advisers are there to help with the rest!  So, when you do get that far in your college search, be sure to take advantage of the advice that they have to offer! Continue reading

Three ways to maximize your study sessions.

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At this point in your life you are very familiar with classwork, exams, and, of course, studying.  If you’re in college, no doubt you are studying.  At least a little!  The question is, are you studying effectively?  Continue reading

Creating Opportunities for Real-World Experience

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Over the past several years, Trinity Baptist College has developed a strong relationship with nearby Crystal Springs Elementary (CSE).  Through the Federal Work Study Program and in collaboration with CSE, Trinity Baptist College was able to create a student employee position which simultaneously addresses tutoring needs in CSE and provides additional financial aid for a college student in the FWS program.

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Tiffani Edwards

Through this program, current TBC senior, Tiffani Edwards, tutored reading and math at CSE during the 2017-2018 school year.  Tiffani is an Elementary Education major and her dream is to work in the public school sector.  Talking about her experience at CSE, Tiffani smiled and said,

“I’ve had experience helping kids with homework before. But I feel like this really gave me a different perspective.  This is a bigger deal – the kids are being tested on this material.  Some of them are behind in certain areas and I had to figure out ways to fill in the gaps.”

Typically, she would tutor 4-6 students at a time.

“It wasn’t really the whole classroom concept of being a teacher yet, but it’s one step closer to that.”

The assistant principal at CSE was very pleased with Tiffani’s work and has requested more TBC students to fill tutoring positions.  Sashuas Rodriguez, an Elementary Special Education major at TBC, has accepted the tutoring position for the current (2018-2019) school year.

TBC Financial Aid Director Mark Elkins explains how this work study arrangement is of benefit to everyone involved.

The U.S. Department of Education indicates that a portion of TBC’s annual funding allocation in the Federal Work Study program must be dedicated to a wage match for a student(s) employed in a public service capacity involving reading and math tutoring.  So, this is really a win-win-win-win effort. CSE students receive one-on-one help with reading and math, CSE Administration have a dedicated reading and math tutor at no cost, a TBC student gains valuable hands-on experience as well as additional financial aid, and TBC is able to give back to the community.

We are privileged to be in the position to invest in our local Jacksonville community by providing quality tutors who can help young people grow academically.  In return, participating TBC students receive valuable real-world experience in their chosen area of study.  This kind of practical involvement paves the way for our education majors to graduate with qualifying resume credentials as well as a passion for education.

Dealing With Goodbye

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People get weird when it’s time to say goodbye.  Especially when it is a long-term goodbye.  Yes, even adults.

Maybe you can identify yourself in one of the following examples:

  • You get hyper and say ridiculous things that are completely immature or flat out make no sense. But you continue to jabber on and on and on, following no particular train of thought, anxious to plow through becauseyoucan’thandlethestressandwantitobeoveralready.
  • You get super sensitive and cry about every look, feeling, or slight inconvenience.  Why did she look at me like that?  *sniff*  He really said that?  *tear trickles down cheek*   Why won’t this suitcase just zip up already?  *full-on river of tears floods face*
  • You go waaaaaay off the charts in the opposite direction and distance yourself emotionally. Your stoic expression rivals George Washington’s likeness on the one dollar bill.

What is it about saying goodbye that throws people into a tailspin?  It’s like we morph into overgrown toddlers hiding behind our parents on the first day of preschool.  Here’s the good news: getting weird about goodbyes is actually pretty normal.

The simple answer?  Goodbyes are hard.  You cope by pulling out whatever internal armor you have at your disposal.  And while that might get you through the moment, it may cause you to miss out on the positives to be found in the circumstances or, worse, cause the goodbye to end on a negative note.

As you approach THE goodbye that is dropping off your child at college, you may be wondering how you will handle the scenario.  In your mind’s eye this young adult is still eight years old and needs help combing his/her hair.  (There are so many moving parts, memories, mixed feelings, and uncertainties about this transition that it is easy to dwell on the negatives and become overwhelmed.)  Instead, try to focus on the positives!

If you need some help coming up with those positives, maybe these will help get you started:

  • The simple fact that they have reached this milestone means they are growing, learning, and taking strides toward adulthood.
  • They are here largely because of YOU and your support, guidance, and advice.
  • Hopefully, this season of their life will help them continue to mature and impact the world around them in amazing ways.
  • They are confident enough to take this step and venture out on their own.
  • ______________________ (Your turn! Fill in the blank!)

Here’s to a successful shift from high school to college… make it memorable! (In a positive way!)

Keyboard shortcuts every college student should know

We humans are funny.  No matter how easy something is, we are always looking for a shortcut.  This could stem from a genuine desire to be as effective as possible… but then again, it could come from laziness.  You may have heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  But swapping the word “necessity” for “laziness” sounds more accurate. Continue reading

Off To College: One Thing You Can’t Afford To Leave Behind

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Have you looked at the calendar today?  Did you notice that there are only 5 more squares in July?

Five days before August hits in all it’s hot, busy, back-to-school fury.

For some, the conclusion of summer means cramming in a few more beach days, one more camping trip, or one more theme park adventure.  For others, it means cranking through just a couple more weeks of longer-than-usual work days to save up for the fall semester.

Emotions range from excitement to dread and everything in between… possibly ricocheting between the two extremes like an out-of-control bouncy-ball!

If you are beginning your freshman year at college, you are getting ready to launch out on your own.  This is true for both commuter students and campus residents.  While the change is more drastic when a student actually “moves out” for college, commuters also experiences a detachment from what (up until now) has been their typical family schedule.  This is a necessary, even healthy, part of the process of growing up and morphing into adulthood!

Naturally, becoming immersed in college will mean you become a bit less involved in life outside of college – especially as a campus resident.  Here at Trinity Baptist College, we encourage you to take full advantage of the spiritual culture of our campus by attending chapels and Bible studies and develop strong relationships by participating in activities and athletic events.  College can be so much more than an academic education if you allow it to be.  It can be the place where you meet life-long friends and make important connections that impact your life long after graduation.

There is a delicate balance, however, between full involvement in your college life and maintaining honest communication with family and mentors back home.  You may not grasp the importance of this now, but believe it – you need to keep in touch!  And not just because your family loves you and wants to hear from you! (Although that is a very valid reason, and one you need to remember!)

There is another — deeper — reason.  You will need advice. No matter how old you get or now experienced or mature – you will always need someone to speak into your life and offer a different perspective.

Proverbs 11:14 – Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 19:20 – Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Embracing your independence without dismissing the family members, friends, and mentors who have had a positive influence in your life before college is a tricky but important lesson to learn.  They are familiar with your background.  They have witnessed your strengths and weaknesses first hand and know you better than anyone on campus.  They can see how your struggles, triumphs, fears, and dreams make you unique.  They also can see your potential more clearly than most and genuinely desire your success.

Eventually, your new professors, friends, and mentors will come to know you as well.  They will hopefully speak into your life with wisdom and help you mature as a person.  But view these new influences as an addition to your support system instead of a replacement for what you already have in your parents and spiritual mentors.

Getting to college is a milestone to be proud of, certainly.  But don’t forget the valuable advice and support that got you to this point! You can’t afford to leave behind the wisdom and perspective that has been instrumental to your success so far!

Above all, don’t distance yourself from the ultimate source of wisdom for your life – God and His Word.  Even if all others fail you or steer you wrong, His wisdom transcends all.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The down side of having a plan

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There’s a down side?  Really?

If you are a planner, you are probably staring daggers at your screen right now.  “What kind of incompetent person would suggest that planning is less than the epitome of being responsible?”

Continue reading

What to pack for college dorm life?

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Starting to plan for dorm life?  You probably have questions. How in the world do you pack an entire life into one section of dorm room?  How do you decide what comes with you and what stays behind?  Should you bring your own microwave?  Ironing board?  Blender?  Trash can? What about a TV?

First of all, do not worry about packing your entire life into one section of dorm room!  If you live with your parents now, you are likely used to having an entire home at your disposal.  The thought of paring down to a few square feet may leave you panicked!  The truth is you don’t need any more room than that!  College life is busy and the more you have to keep track of, the less you can concentrate on what really matters – experiencing life!

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to wait on large items and appliances like microwaves and TVs.  If a roommate already has one, there might not be room (or need) for a second one!  This is also true for smaller items that can easily be shared, such as irons and trash cans.  Instead, think about items that are more essential to your personal day-to-day life.

Here are some essentials to consider as you make your shopping and packing list!

Laundry hamper – Everyone has to do laundry!  Might as well make it easy on yourself and get a hamper that allows you to carry things to the laundry room and back without dropping things all over the hall!  There are lots of options out there.  Some are almost completely collapsible and weigh close to nothing (basically a mesh pop-up container).  Others have more structure but still fold to save space.  Or you could go with a laundry basket that slides under your bed.  (Don’t forget the laundry detergent!)

Book bag – It might be worth investing in a quality one that you really like.  The cheaper ones tend to fall apart quickly and if you have to walk long distances every day it might take a toll on your back as well.  Keep in mind that you’ll likely be carrying several large books, possibly your laptop, and (especially if you’re a commuter) a water bottle… maybe lunch!  Look for something with a little structure to protect your computer.

Command hooks – Get them in a variety of sizes and shapes.  They are useful for so many things, don’t damage walls, and hold amazingly well!

Bed linens and towels – You can probably get by with a single set of bed linens.  You may want 2-3 sets of towels depending on how often you want to do laundry.  I don’t forget hand towels and wash cloths!

Flip-flops or shower shoes, a shower caddy, and a robe.  Depending on your dorm room set-up you’ll be sharing a shower with several people.  These items are always recommended!

Headphones/earbuds – Whether it is listening to music, plugging in to watch a video for class, or just trying to block out distractions while you study, they are a great investment!

Comfortable shoes – Walking will happen.  Might as well be comfortable!

We hope these suggestions will help you as you begin your college packing!  Do your best to pack lightly.  It is nearly inevitable that you will collect things as time goes by.  Remember that everything you bring with you will eventually have to move out again!