Help with Financial Aid?

<p>Hi all. I'm new to this forum and came across in my search for Financial Aid help. So I apologize if this post is a lot like other posts here or if I shouldn't be posting this at all, but I am looking for as much advice as possible.</p>

<p>Anyway, I've run into Financial Aid issues at my school. I am transferring from VCU in Richmond, VA to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Tech was my first choice college out of high school, but I got waitlisted. The engineering program is a lot better, and overall the cost of living there is a lot cheaper than the city. However, my financial aid package at Tech doesn't meet all of my aid so I'm getting a few thousand less than I'm getting at VCU.</p>

<p>I filled out my FAFSA after getting information from my mom, and came out with an EFC of about 2500. Of course, my parents are lower-middle class and I never expected them to help me with college, so there's $2500 I won't have right there. Since I got plenty of aid with VCU, though, I wasn't expecting such a problem from tech. </p>

<p>The Cost of Attendance is $20,000, and my need on my financial aid package is $17,500. I only received $11,600 in aid. Tuition costs $7,400, fees are $2,100. So I am left with $2100 for housing and a meal plan. I had to find an apartment since they didn't have room on campus for transfers, so my rent is $430 a month with everything included. A meal plan costs $1318/semester. Obviously, financial aid isn't going to cover this.</p>

<p>I know I can get a job, but I don't feel like I would earn enough from a job to cover my rent. I'm also worried about what I'm going to do in regards to other expenses (books, a few groceries, basic necessities). I don't have much saved, and I couldn't get a job the past two summers. I was excepting to get a job this summer, but went out of the country to help out my sick grandfather and returned this past month.</p>

<p>Are there any tips on what to do in order to try and get more financial aid money from the people at the FA office? The students who work at the office said that all I can do to get more aid is to get my parents to get a PLUS Loan, but they wouldn't be approved because my dad does not have good credit and my mom is unemployed. </p>

<p>I would rather speak to an actual FA officer or counselor rather than the students, but don't know how to go about meeting with them. And once I get there, I don't know how to go about asking for aid. I'm glad I got any aid to begin with, so I'd like to show I am grateful for that, but I also want to express the fact that there is money FAFSA says I need that I do not have. Ideally, I would love to have my need met. But I would be happy with $1000 for the semester, or even a couple hundred to take care of books and supplies.</p>

<p>Please let me know if you have any suggestions or if you know of anyone who has been in a similar situation. Most of my friends have been lucky with a college savings and parents who are able to help even just a little bit, and the others who rely on financial aid like me have enough to pay for rent, food, books and some left over.</p>

<p>Thanks again for reading my post.</p>

<p>If your parent's apply for and are denied a PLUS loan you are eligible for an additional $4000 in unsub Stafford loans on top of the $5500 you are already eligible for. But that would make your Stafford loans $9500 for one year which is rather high.</p>

<p>Yeah, that is a bit high in loans considering it's only my second year. I rather keep the loans to a minimum this year, since I have $5000 out from last year and $5500 out this year. If that is my only option, though, I don't know how to receive it. My dad won't fill out the PLUS loan form so I could fill out the denial form. Is there any way around that? A way to fill out the PLUS application on my own using his info that I can get off the FAFSA?</p>

<p>I know I qualify for the Academic Competitiveness Grant, but Tech isn't giving it to me for some reason. Are there any other forms of grants that I can get in order to reduce the unmet need?</p>

<p>The maximum loan amount for sophomores is $6500, not $5500 - was that a typo or didn't they offer you the full amount? Also, it's possible they are waiting to award ACG until they verify your credit hours/gpa. You cannot apply for a Plus loan in your dad's name without his consent! I think you should call or email the FA office now and not wait until you get there.</p>

<p>You only need one parent to fill out the Plus Loan. You could have your unemployed mom fill it out. </p>

<p>Sadly, this isn't unusual for transfer students. Some schools don't offer institutional aid to transfer students since they reserve that for enticing the best freshmen class.</p>

<p>It's unfortunate that transfer students often don't learn this "bad news" until they have already left their prior school (with better aid), since transfer students often don't get their aid packages until summer.</p>

<p>Do you have to have a meal plan since you're living off campus? If not, then don't get one. Perhaps your parents can help some with groceries? </p>

<p>Yes, get a job. It will help.</p>

<p>Virginia Tech doesn't guarantee to meet full need. You can go and talk to the financial aid office at Tech and see if they can help you out at all.</p>

<p>Remember, you are a transfer to Tech and in most cases schools give better awards to incoming freshman than to transfers.</p>

<p>I have Stafford Loan that is $3500 and an Unsub Loan of $2000. They possibly didnt give me the full amount because they're taking forever to post my AP/IB and Transfer credits, so I was listed as a Freshman when they processed my financial aid.</p>

<p>My mom is out of the country still, and my dad doesn't understand the whole college financial aid process and isn't willing to help. My mom is more help but still isn't eager to fill out a loan application just to get denied, and won't be back home til early October. Thanks for the advice though, I guess I'm just desperate to have my finances settled so I won't be in a situation where I won't have money for rent. </p>

<p>I am trying to get a job with my work study award. I've already applied to 5 the last time I visited Tech, so hopefully applying early helps, haha. I applied to over 40 at VCU and didnt get any offers at all, so I'm praying Tech's job market and helpfulness with work study is better than my experience at VCU.</p>

<p>The meal plan isn't required, but the deal is much better on food with a meal plan. We get 67% off of the actual price of food, and are given $475 to spend. (Example: Chick Fil A's combo is around $5, and I only pay $1.65 out of the meal plan.) Tech also has one of the top ranked dining services in the nation (and I've tried many college dining halls in VA and Tech definitely wins by a lot.) I also plan on spending more time on campus, in the library, student center, or in lounges during the day because my apartment is one of the farther ones off campus and I'm relying on the buses to get me around. Would not getting a dining plan and just eating once I'm back in the apartment save more?</p>

<p>@Thumper - I went in this past week and tried to get past the student assistants. All they could tell me was everything I already read off the website, and they left me after pushing the parent PLUS loans on me.</p>

<p>Would meeting with an actual Financial Aid Counselor be any better, or do you think they'd pull the same thing the students gave me?</p>

<p>I also know that Tech offers a waiver to reduce unmet need for students within a certain income range that I fit into, but I didn't get it probably because I was a transfer. It's kind of ridiculous that most of the issue is because I'm transferring because every admission meeting, information session, and even orientation pushed the fact that once you are accepted, the label of "transfer" disappears, and you fit in just as if you've been a regular student there. Even the financial aid session mentioned this!</p>

<p>
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EFC of about 2500

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<p>If your EFC is REALLY this amount, you should have received a partial Pell grant, I think.</p>

<p>Thumper - My EFC is exactly $2,487.</p>

<p>Here's my aid package from Tech:
Pell - $3100
Commonwealth Award - $3000
Stafford Loan - $3500
Unsub Loan - $2000</p>

<p>It sounds like you should be able to get your Sub Stafford Loan bumped up to 4500 once your credits transfer or it gets straightened out at the FA Office. I suggest going there in person and fixing or getting clarifying information on that issue.</p>

<p>The real issue is that your parents will not fill out a ParentPlus loan. Since they already filled out the FAFSA for you, it doesn't make sense that they wouldn't fill out the PP paperwork as well (in hopes for a denial so you can get additional aid). They fear something--it is now your task to figure out what they fear and assure them.</p>

<p>Voice each potential fear and see what the true sticking point might be. I am just going to brainstorm here, you will need to pinpoint the actual problem with them.</p>

<ul>
<li><p>The parents fear if they DO qualify that you will expect them to take out a loan and/or they don't want to face that guilt of refusing to take out a loan</p></li>
<li><p>The parents are fearful that signing up for the loan will automatically <em>obligate</em> them to the loan</p></li>
<li><p>The parents have some sort of undocumented status that they fear will be triggered by the forms</p></li>
<li><p>The parents have some other money issue and are trying to stay "off the grid"</p></li>
<li><p>Parents are wary of legalease and signing forms in general, have privacy issues with others or specifically with the daughter about their income, </p></li>
</ul>

<p>Figure out the problem, and then allay their fears with more updated/correct information. Something is going on because it makes no sense for them to refuse the paperwork.</p>

<p>Hi all -
Thanks for informing me I'm eligible for $1000 more on a Sub Stafford Loan. That will help with expenses for books this semester with purchasing a meal plan.</p>

<p>annikasorrensen - I know a lot about my parents' income/financial info. You're right, part of the problem is that if there is a possibility the get approved for the PLUS Loan, the only option I'll have is for them to take out a loan. My dad also told me he's been building up his credit because they're in the market for a house right now. I'm assuming that taking out PLUS loan would probably effect their credit for a house, correct? (Note-My dad's income isn't too great for buying a house, but he'll be receiving money for the down payment of the house.) I'm not familiar with what the relationship between loans, credit, and buying a house is, but my dad says that he doesn't want to fill out the paper work due to that. He's not the one who filled out my FAFSA, my mom is, and since she is out of the country I can't convince her to do anything until well into the Fall Semester.</p>

<p>I also know my parents are against getting THAT much in loans for just one year, but they never really say anything because they can't contribute anything to prevent getting loans. I agree with them that $9,500 in loans is a lot for one year. I would much rather take it out when I'm an upperclassmen if I continue to not get as much aid. It'll also be better for the future because my younger sibling will be in college next year, so there's no telling how complicated the financial situation with us could get.</p>

<p>In the end, it will mean more loaned, VT just doesn't have the money to meet need. You need to decide if you can live with the loans or a cheaper option will work better unfortunately.</p>

<p>Redroses (and everyone else) - If my parents qualify for the PLUS loan, will I not be able to get the $4000 unsub? And does it in fact affect the situation with buying a house?</p>

<p>Redroses, unfortunately since I planned on going to Tech, I don't have a cheaper option. I have an apartment lease signed, so I have to stay there. I can't go down to community college either, because I came out of high school with 38+ IB/AP Credits that fulfilled all the requirements for the engineering program.</p>

<p>How many credits do you already have and is your gpa over 3.0? If you're classified as a sophomore, once your AP/IB and transfer credits are processed, they should award your ACG of $650/semester...not much, I know, but it's 1.5 months of rent expense!</p>

<p>So, your revised FA could look like this:
Pell - $3100
Commonwealth Award - $3000
ACG - $1300
Stafford Loan - $4500
Unsub Loan - $2000 </p>

<p>Total $13,900</p>

<p>After your billable expenses (tuition/fees/mealplan) of $12,136/year you'll have a bit less than $1800 left to cover books, housing, transportation, and personal expenses. I think you're going to have to make sure you find a job quickly, even if no work study jobs are available. Since you live off campus, I would try businesses in your neighborhood or on the city bus line. Hopefully you can find one that would give you enough hours to cover your rent.</p>

<p>sk8rmom - I had a 3.4 coming out of VCU. I had 21 AP Credits, and 19 IB Credits at VCU. I don't think I'm getting credit for all of those at tech, but I think I'll be getting 24 credits from IB/AP, then 27 credits transferred from VCU.</p>

<p>When I talked to them about the ACG, they did say there was a possibility I won't get it just because they process transfers last. :( If I don't get it though, are there other grants out there? Or should I just rely on getting the PLUS/Unsub loan?</p>

<p>Jobs in the Blacksburg/Christiansburg area that aren't campus-affiliated are slim for students because we get so many long breaks to go home, or so I've heard. I'm hoping for an on campus job because it's flexible and my extra curriculars and class schedules are hectic for the first semester. Pretty much Tech is a college town, in the mountains, surrounded by farms. My neighborhood is a huge apartment complex also surrounded by cows haha. I am shooting for the work study first, so hopefully that works out well.</p>

<p>You need to send a personal and confidential letter to the director of financial aid and relate your situation. Ask specifically about your freshman vs sophomore status and the ACG loan since it looks like you can get money from those sources once your credits are settled. </p>

<p>I don't know how Virginia Tech's meal plan works, but I don't know any college meal plan that is cheaper than putting together your own meals cheaply. Maybe you can get a less comprehensive plan for less and try to fill in the missing meals less expensively. Sometimes parents who won't pay for the college official bills are far more generous in providing food and other things. I just made my starving artist son two dozen sandwiches for him to freeze and eat for lunch in August, and let him shop my pantry for some things. I don't have much cash to give him. </p>

<p>When you get to the school, see if you can find an off campus room for less money. Sometimes a roommate leaves midway through the year, and rooms become available really cheaply. You are stuck with your lease for this year, but for next year, you may be able to come up with a cheaper housing option. Especially if you find another student who will consider a bedroom share. My friend and I did that one year even though we both would have loved having an apartment with a room for ourselves, but the deal was too good on a nearby room available in an apartment that some other students rented. Their roommate flew the coop, so they had a large bedroom available. If Beth and I shared the bedroom, the cost was really low. We were so discouraged looking for two bedroom apartments and even the onebedrooms for the two of us were on the high side of what we wanted to pay. This was not what we ideally wanted, but the price was more than right. It was a very good deal that made expenses bearable that one year when both of us were strapped for cash.</p>

<p>You cannot receive that additional $4000 in Stafford loans UNLESS your parents are denied the Plus Loan. Otherwise, the limit for Stafford loans for sophomores is $6500 total.</p>

<p>cptofthehouse - How does writing to the director work? I've found the email address, but would writing an actual letter work better? Or trying to speak with him or a counselor over the phone?</p>

<p>Also (I said before) Tech's meal plans give a 67% discount off food in the dining hall. And we have $475 Flex Dollars to spend during the semester, at the price of $1,318. I guess the meal plan is more for convenience since I'd be on campus more, but I guess if it will reduce costs significantly I'll forgo lunches/early dinners on campus during the week and wait til I get to the apartment.</p>

<p>Anyway, there are a two grants/waivers I've found out about that I qualify for but don't know if I can get.
-Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program (VGAP) - Received $2,000 from VCU's financial aid.
-Funds for the Future - A financial aid waiver from Tech that's supposed to reduce unmet need depending on income. After looking at another completely met financial aid package, I would probably get about $700.</p>

<p>VCU is much more poorer than Virginia Tech is, has more students, and yet was still able to meet all my need. Should I go about bringing up the two things I found and the fact VCU met all my need, and should I also mention my parents being against applying for a PLUS loan?</p>

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Should I go about bringing up the two things I found and the fact VCU met all my need, and should I also mention my parents being against applying for a PLUS loan?

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<p>Certainly...bring these things up if you choose to. First, however, check to see if you missed the deadlines for those grants. Second...just because ONE school meets your full need as an incoming freshman does NOT mean that another will do so as a transfer student sophomore. Third, you can mention that your parents won't apply for a Plus loan but the school probably won't care. They are offering this as an OPTION to pay for any portion of your costs that are not covered by financial aid. To be honest, the school doesn't care where you get that other money from...Plus is one option...if your parents don't want to apply for and take a Plus loan, the school will expect THEM to find the money elsewhere. It is unlikely the school will make up the shortfall.</p>

<p>By all means go and talk to the college. BUT don't get your hopes up too high. This school does not guarantee to meet full need. You are a transfer student. This might just be all they have to offer you.</p>