Applying for college and getting financial aid may seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Aldine ISD is ready to help students and their families by helping demystify the process.
There are many options to finance college. But Denise Keaton advises families to get familiar with grants and scholarships as early as possible. Keaton serves as the coordinator of student financial aid. She stressed that back-to-school is a great time to focus on future plans like college and career goals.
“I encourage middle and high school students and their families to learn about the processes,” said Keaton. “Families want to know about college financing. This is especially important when students are juniors and seniors. Middle school is not too early for families. This is a good time to begin thinking about college. Parents want to know how to plan, prepare and finance their child’s education.”
For some parents, middle school may seem way too early to begin thinking about college. Middle school may actually be the best time to build college readiness.
Dr. Charlotte J. Davis also echoed that conclusion. She serves as director of guidance and counseling. She stated many middle school students think middle school doesn’t count. But in reality, how you do in middle school impacts what courses you take in high school.
Davis pointed out that this was especially true for math classes. She explained that math class choice and performance affects future decisions in high school. For instance, it may affect where a counselor will place a student. Students need to meet prerequisites to get into honors classes. This may also be the case to get into Advanced Placement (AP) classes and International Baccalaureate® (IB) studies.
Davis and Keaton want parents of students to think and talk about the future. They need to talk about kids’ interests and talents and how these might translate into a college major. Most importantly, they want parents to know that it is never too early to start planning for college.
“Students have a chance to go to college or pursue a certification in a field after high school,” said Davis. “Higher education is possible. We have staff to help guide them on their path to success and to achieving their dreams.”
Keaton stated that paying for college concerns many families. She stressed that families need to know that they can afford college and that financial aid is available.
“Students might be surprised to find out how much financial aid they can receive, regardless of their family‘s income level,” said Keaton.
Aside from guiding students through academics, financial aid awareness is vital to help students reach their dreams. Families need to know their options as soon as possible. According to Keaton, most students and parents may be aware of federal financial aid. But she stressed that many were unaware of Pell Grants and other forms of aid. Financial aid awards are funded and regulated by federal and state governments, which is why applying for and receiving financial aid is a process.
“It’s important to have the money conversation ahead of time,” Keaton said. “Finances are important to talk about, but they shouldn‘t stop students from attending college. Students need to know what schools they can afford before they begin looking. And then they need a checklist of things they need to do to apply for financial aid early. We discuss the different types of aid available.
“We work with students and their families. There is nothing more exciting than when we see students receive aid to help them realize their academic goals. Going to college or a technical school puts them on the path to a brighter future.”
Students and families can get a head start this fall. The Scholarship Office is hosting several Financial Aid Information Sessions for parents and students. The presentations will give information about college applications and the financial aid process. For example, parents will learn about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Folks that attend can also ask questions to help them better understand the processes and be aware of resources.
For those that can’t attend any of the Financial Aid Information Sessions, visit the Scholarship Office webpage. Students will find information about early college awareness and financial aid resources. They will also find scholarship news and deadline dates.
August — Financial Aid Sessions
September — Financial Aid Sessions
Keaton also advises that students and families attend College Night. Each year representatives from many universities, technical schools and branches of the military attend. The recruiters present will discuss majors and other aspects of college. They will get important information about college applications and how the financial aid process works. They will hear about the issues associated with funding a college education.
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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