For high school graduates preparing for the first year of college, most summers are spent playing the waiting game.
First, it’s the acceptance letters. Then, it’s the housing assignments and orientation.
Lastly, it’s the uncertainty of the financial aid monetary amount that often forces incoming freshmen to make blind plans based on what they think the results may be.
University of Colorado incoming freshman Aida Rognich is rethinking her plans for college after receiving disappointing news about her federal financial aid last week.
“FAFSA made an estimate that I would get the Pell Grant and some other grants that added up to about $9,000,” Rognich said. “But, they recently sent me an e-mail saying that I was ineligible to receive any grants. Now, where am I going to get the money for college?”
Financial aid offers and scholarship awards are often released during the summer months, which makes it difficult for college students to rely on just aid to pay their expenses.
“I am really set on going to Boulder,” Rognich said. “But I truly don’t know at this point.”
Rognich said she is planning to talk to the financial aid office at CU about her options before settling for loans.
“I guess loans will just have to be the thing for me, even though I really wouldn’t want to put that kind of stress on my family,” Rognich said. “I will make it one way or another.”
It is not just new students who are struggling with the uncertainty of financial aid. Transfer and continuing students are also susceptible to surprises.
Molly Rogan, who will be a sophomore at CU in the fall, said while her parents pay for her tuition, she relies on federal aid to pay for living expenses — such as housing, bills and food.
Since housing in town is less competitive in the summer, Rogan said she couldn’t wait to receive her financial aid awards so she could sign a lease.
Rogan took a chance and signed a lease in March, even though she didn’t receive her loan offers until the end of May.
“There are no guarantees, so you just have to plan for less than what you expect,” Rogan said. “Those estimates aren’t always reliable, so you can’t just rely on that. You have to have a backup plan.”
During her housing search, Rogan looked for low prices first, hoping to find something that would fit into her unknown budget. She ended up receiving more awards than needed for the next school year, but will only take what she needs to get by.
Rogan works at the Recreation Center to help pay for basic needs and puts money into an emergency savings account. She is hoping to use federal loans to pay for rent and utilities for the coming year, and will rely mainly on her income for food and other necessities.
“I would recommend having a job,” Rogan said. “It’s more reliable than scholarships and loans. Don’t depend on others. Have a plan to rely mostly on yourself.”