If students plan ahead, they could receive a college education without having to dig so deeply into their own pockets.”The higher level of education you have, the higher your earning potential is, the more money you will make. It is an investment in your future, and for those who cannot afford that financial aid is there to help them out,” said Devon Wiggins, director of Financial Aid.A survey from 2008 shows that average earnings grow from $426 to $591 per week, just by earning a high school diploma. Getting a Bachelor’s degree increases average earnings to $978 per week, according to carreronestop.org. Many students are missing their window of opportunity. For the next academic year fall 2010-spring 2011. The deadline to apply for financial aid is April 1 and for TJC scholarships the deadline is March 1. “By submitting [the scholarship application] by March the 1st they are giving themselves the best opportunity to be considered for anything and everything that TJC has to offer,” said Shelby Brown, coordinator of scholarships.In the 08-09 school year, the $12.9 million in grants and $19 million in loans were given to TJC students through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There was over $31 million distributed among TJC students through financial aid. For this academic year, statistics are unavailable but are expected to be substantially higher.Everyone should apply for financial aid. Not every student can receive a grant, but there are loans that students could receive by filling out the FAFSA form online. By filling out the form, students will learn what they qualify for through financial aid.Scholarships here at TJC award over $1 million each year. The amount given in scholarships varies. There is an assortment of donors each with its own criteria for each scholarship. This is why TJC has made applying for scholarships easier by creating only one application available online.It is extremely important for students to apply early for financial assistance. The application for the 2011-2012 school year is ready now and “best words of advice that I can give is that they need to apply early, and now is the time to do so,” said Wiggins.Students who apply late for financial assistance through financial aid or scholarships are missing out on money.”It is in the best interest of the student to apply [for scholarships0 by March 1,” said Brown.If a student applies after the deadline, there is a good chance they will receive less money than if they would have if they had applied on time.”If they apply after that (March1) they will be considered for some (scholarships) but not all, and the one that they may meet the criteria for may have been already awarded,” said Brown.The scholarships are usually awarded by May 31 for each academic school year. There is only a set amount of money that can be awarded, and by missing the deadline of March 1 “students are missing out on opportunities,” said Brown.Even though the FASFA deadline is June 30, 2011, students who miss the TJC priority deadline of April 1 could receive less or no money.”All schools have a pot of money that they get from either federal or state sources that they have a limited supply of,” said Wiggins. TJC ran out of financial aid money for last fall in May or June, so anyone who applied late missed his opportunity.Scholarships as well have a limited supply of money, and this makes applying late close to impossible to receiving an award. “If you apply late (for scholarships) the less likely we will have anything available,” said Brown.There are many consequences of missing the deadline for financial aid.”You could miss out on some funding, you will probably have to stand in line or wait longer for your financial aid to be processed, and you could have to pay out of pocket for some of your cost,” said Wiggins.This is not the only problem with applying late for financial aid.
“What we struggle with are many students who apply late. TJC does not have a program to assist with books, and so it is on the students’ shoulders to purchase their own books,” said Wiggins.Many students are going without their books, because they do not have enough money to purchase them.”Not having books could affect their success in class but that seems to be a huge issue at the beginning of each semester until the bulk of students have been awarded (financial aid),” said Wiggins.Many students do not understand the consequences of turning in things late until they encounter the situation first-hand. “I’m behind. You can’t do your homework assignments without the book, even if it’s on the computer you still have to have that code for the labs,” said freshman Reginald Evans.Reginald applied a month ago for financial aid, and he is having problems keeping up with his grades because the cost of his books is high. Apply for financial aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov, and apply for scholarships at http://www.2.tjc.edu/scholarships.