Q. Why do you work for a non-profit organization that offers students and parents financial information on higher education and resources?
A. I know I would not be where I am today without a college education. It opened countless doors for me and provided me with the confidence and skills I needed to walk through them. But I remember what it was like applying for college — and despite the lengthy essays I had to write and the interviews I had to undergo, the most intimidating part was trying to figure out how to pay for it. I actually see myself in many of the students I work with. Working at ACCESS, I’ve got the opportunity to make a real difference in their lives, and in the lives of their families, by helping them succeed in college and reach their full potential.
Q. What advice would you give to families that want to send their kids to college?
A. No matter who you are and what your personal financial situation may be, college can be affordable and there are resources available to assist you with planning for college costs. Families should learn about the financial aid process early and seek out any free help they can get from their high school or community-based organizations.
Also, when applying to college, be sure to apply to a range of schools (based on cost), and always include among your targets a public college or university. Students often apply to at least one academic safety school on their list of target colleges, and they should be just as sure to include a financial safety school as well.
Q. Why do feel the issue of college affordability is so important?
A. Too often, talented students become discouraged early on by the growing cost of college, figure that there’s no way they could ever afford it, and either give up trying or make poor financial decisions that haunt them for years. Going to college is an investment in your future, but you shouldn’t have to spend the rest of your life paying for it.
There are affordable options. The more that students and families know about those options, and how to realize them, the greater the chance young people will have to reach their dreams.
Q. Why is it important to start this process early?
A. Early education about the financial aid process allows students and their families to prepare for college costs and puts them in a better position to understand and maximize their options when it comes time to make the final decisions about how to pay for college. Additionally, federal financial aid is given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner students fill out federal financial aid forms, the better the chance they will have to receive the greatest amount of federal aid available.
Q. What college did you graduate from?
A. I obtained my bachelor’s degree at UMass Amherst and my master’s degree from Northeastern University.
Q. Did finances play into your decision to go to UMass Amherst?
A. My financial situation played a huge part in my decision. UMass was the most affordable option for me because the other schools I was applying to offered me more loans than grants. A lot of the high school seniors I work with today often see the bottom line number when they receive their financial aid package and think they’ve received a free ride, not understanding the large and significant difference between loans and grants.
A. Poor decision about school loans can affect you for the rest of your life. UMass Amherst is a great school; I got a great education there — surely as good as what I might have received at any of the other schools I applied to, and, on top of all that, I graduated with a far lower debt burden.got a great education there — surely as good as what I might have received at any of the other schools I applied to, and, on top of all that, I graduated with a far lower debt burden.
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