Financial aid office helps students fund their college education

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    By Bret Clark

    As the new semester begins and tuition bills come due, many students will apply for federal aid to help finance their education.

    BYU students will receive about $15 million through Pell grants this year, said Steve Olsen, BYU’s federal programs coordinator in the financial aid office.

    Also, many students will receive Stafford loans, Olsen said.

    “I would say about half of the students who graduate from BYU have at least one Stafford loan, including undergraduate and graduate students,” Olsen said.

    Although the last day to pay fall tuition without a late fee is Sep. 11, students have until June 30, 2001 or the last day they attend classes before that date to complete the application process required for Pell grants and Stafford loans.

    To apply for either program a student must complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid to the federal government.

    The applicant will receive a Student Aid Report, which must be submitted to BYU before the application process is finished.

    Applications can be obtained at the financial aid office, A-41 ASB or completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

    Olsen said once the financial aid office receives the completed application, the student’s tax forms will be requested. He said the office will review the application for accuracy and determine whether a grant or loan will be approved.

    Only about half of the applications that will be processed this year have been received by the beginning of fall semester, Olsen said.

    Although students are encouraged to apply early, Olsen said students can receive their allotment as long as they apply before the deadline.

    The federal government determines what a student’s contribution to tuition should be, according to his and his family’s income. That amount is called the estimated family contribution.

    Olsen said BYU establishes the estimated cost of education, which helps limit the amount of student loan debt that students can take upon themselves.

    A Pell grant is determined by subtracting the estimated family contribution from the cost of education, and can range from $400 to $3,300 for eligible undergraduate students, he said.

    A Stafford loan is determined in a similar way, but scholarships and other grants are factored in along with the estimated family contribution.

    Kyra Black, 17, a freshman, majoring in zoology, received a Pell grant for the 2000-2001 school year.

    “I filled (the FAFSA) out online and had a terrible time. I tried it three times and it erased all my information every time, but I finally got it,” Black said.

    Although the application process was frustrating, Black said the time spent was worth it when she got her approval letter in the mail.

    Stafford loans differ from Pell grants in that the loans must be paid back and are financed by private institutions rather than federal funds.

    They have an 8.5 percent interest rate cap that is subsidized by the federal government.

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