February 23, 2009
Families explore financial aid options
Some look to cut costs as SUNY Cortland hosts event on applying for aid
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland financial aid advisor Kim Slater, left, helps Carol Hill, right, of Groton and her daughter Ariel Corl with the financial aid process Saturday on the SUNY Cortland campus.
Carol Hill is worried about getting the financial aid her daughter needs this year.
Hill’s daughter Ariel Corl, 18, will be attending SUNY Cortland next fall. Hill said she has been looking to save on costs wherever she can because she is also working on a graduate degree in human services through Empire State College, which the Groton resident plans to finish this year.
“With the way things are, I want to be sure to save wherever possible,” Hill said after filling out a financial aid form Saturday at SUNY Cortland.
The college held its annual Financial Aid Day in SUNY Cortland’s Memorial Library, giving Hill and 12 other local families a chance to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid and ask questions about the financial aid process.
Students preparing for their freshman year, nontraditional students and graduate students attended the event, which ran 9 a.m. to noon.
The deadline to file the form is March 1 and staff from the SUNY Cortland Office of Financial Advisement answered any questions families had to ensure the forms were filled out properly.
“The form is very confusing,” said Kim Slater, interim associate director of the Financial Advisement Office. “The tough part is loans are being stricter of credit approval, partly because of the economy.”
Slater said she receives all sorts of questions about the application, and most of the ones she had to answer Saturday were related to making sure the information had been entered in the proper places on the form.
Most people knew what they were doing, but just were unsure about their income, she said.
Karen Gallagher, interim director of the Financial Advisement Office, said a common concern people have when filling out the form is they are not certain how much money would be available for this year, particularly since many families had yet to file their income taxes.
People who attended Saturday were asked to bring a copy of their 2008 income tax return, as well as bank account statements and the student’s social security number.
“If income is expected to be less in 2009, which it could be for a variety of reasons, we can make an estimate for the amount of aid they’ll need based on the 2008 income,” Gallagher said.
Hill said her family of four is moving from Groton to Cortland next fall.
“We wanted to and thought it work out since Ariel could commute and still be close to the campus,” Hill said.
Ariel said the idea of living on campus did not appeal to her. Hill added she would save more than $3,000 each year from room and board expenses if her daughter commuted from home.
Hill said she had no problems filling out the financial aid form.
Gallagher said at the end of the session there were no major problems in the filing process.
Gallagher would not speculate how much financial aid could be available this year, as schools statewide face their own budget woes.
“Today was strictly about filing,” she said.
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