GatorCast Ep. 9: Every dollar has a job - Understanding financial literacy [Part 2]
By College Relations, Media Services and the Office of the President, June 19, 2019
This episode is part two of a two-part series on financial literacy. Listen to Part 1 here.
Karl Smith: Hi listeners, this is Karl, editor and producer of GatorCast. Thank you for joining us for Part Two of Financial Aid and Literacy with Amanda Smiser and Kirsten Webber. I'll let President Johnson, take it from here.
President Johnson: Another great topic to bring up for our listeners, Green River College Foundation has dozens and dozens of student scholarships. Some are based on need, some are scholarships geared toward students who are pursuing particular kinds of degrees or who are coming from different sorts of backgrounds. But so often many students aren't familiar or aware of what scholarships are available. And then there are other scholarships that are given to students because of achievement. So for all of you out there and you're looking for different kinds of resources in terms of how to finance your education there are many venues for doing that. And one of them is through financial aid application. But others are through scholarship application. So speaking of ways in which we can finance let's talk about all the different resources that we have at Green River to pay for college. So we've talked about financial aid options we've talked about scholarship options am I missing anything?
Amanda Smyser: So there are a couple different things for our Running Start student. Basically tuition is waived and they're just paying fees for their classes--
President Johnson: Because they're still high school students right?
Amanda Smyser: Yep so they're taking classes here on campus and also still enrolled at their local high school. We also have our Workforce Education office. Financially it works really closely with Workforce Education because a lot of times if financial aid funding is going to take too long or a student isn't eligible for some reason if they're pursuing a two year career technical degree a lot of times Workforce Education can come in and either fill in the gap while they're waiting for financial aid or fund their whole two year degree because they're aren't eligible for financial aid.
President Johnson: Right I'll just insert your Workforce Education office is located in Cedar Hall and they are an office that has grant monies and as you were pointing out for students who might be pursuing a career in technical education degree there may be monies available to help support them in their programming. And this is especially true for some of our returning adult students. What we call non traditional students so for any of you out there that have left college and you were there but you stopped out and you've been working, you've got families and other responsibilities and you haven't come back 'cause you're not sure how you can do that with your time and finance, or if you're an adult listener out there and you've never been to college and you realize that you need some kind of training or education to help stabilize you financially, the Workforce Education Office is definitely a place for you to reach out to see what's available. So, they have those grants, great.
Amanda Smyser: And the last thing I wanna mention too is out Gator Jobs and Work Study program. So Work Study is a part of financial aid so in addition to grants and loans and scholarships you can also be basically awarded a job. And so what it is is you're allocated funds each quarter that you can earn through an on-campus part time job. If you're looking for an on-campus job whether you want to participate in Work Study or you just want an on-campus job to you know be a part of the community, work while you go to school, we have a new job search engine called Gator Jobs.
President Johnson: And where do you find that?
Amanda Smyser: There's a couple different links on our websites we have a link to it on the financial aid page. But I also believe Career and Advising on their webpage has a link as well.
President Johnson: And for those listeners out there that might not be directly connected to Green River College if you're wondering why we talk about Gators, Green River College has a mascot and it's an alligator. Our alligator has a name, his name is Slater. And so he's Slater the gator and so we like to use gator a lot. So this is Gator Jobs not to be confused with Gator Cast which is what you're listening to.
Amanda Smyser: And Gator Jobs is great because it's not just federal Work Study jobs it's all jobs that are available on campus. Because if you're trying to find a job on campus you're going to find that there's a lot of different funding sources for how you get paid. And so these jobs are all co-located in one place and you can filter if you know how you wanna be funded you can filter that way or you can just look at all the jobs.
President Johnson: So they're all located in one place meaning where?
Amanda Smyser: On the Gator Jobs search engine.
President Johnson: On the Gator Jobs search engine. And I guess a lot of students might like to be working on campus because it's the easier way to be employed and go to school at the same time 'cause you're doing it in the same place.
Amanda Smyser: And the nice thing about it too is your employer then is really flexible with your class schedule. They understand your role as a student they're very familiar with it. So you're not gonna be forced to work during class hours because they can't make you. And they're gonna work with your class schedule each quarter.
President Johnson: Do you have to be receiving financial aid to have a Gator Job?
Amanda Smyser: No so that's what's great about Gator Jobs is they have jobs for financial aid eligible students and jobs for non Work Study eligible students. So if you just wanna work a part time hourly job those are all posted on there. And they also have postings from the surrounding Auburn community. So local businesses are able to post their job listings on there--
President Johnson: So you can also find some employment opportunities in our surrounding area?
Amanda Smyser: Yeah so if you don't wanna work on campus if you wanna be off campus for working those job opportunities are posted on there as well.
President Johnson: So it sounds like Gator Jobs is a great resource for students whether on or off financial aid.
Amanda Smyser: Yeah definitely, it's great for all students. Any student whose just looking for some kind of employment while they're a student. And if you need help setting up your Gator Jobs account we have two, I guess you'd say career advisors in the Career and Advising office, Anne-Marie and Josh and they can both help you.
President Johnson: Anne-Marie and Josh both are podcast guests.
Amanda Smyser: Perfect--
President Johnson: other episodes.
Amanda Smyser: I'm sure they'll mention Gator Jobs as well but they can help you set up an account and get started if you have any questions about it.
President Johnson: Excellent, excellent. There's another topic that I think we need to talk about when it comes to financial aid. It centers around the fact that financial aid doesn't last forever and that there are some things that students need to be aware of when it comes to receiving financial aid. So let's talk about financial aid eligibility. How many years can a student qualify for financial aid?
Amanda Smyser: Basically you're eligible for financial aid for 150 % of your program's length.
President Johnson: Let's translate that for people who don't work in a college world.
Amanda Smyser: So in layman's terms basically a typical 90 credit AA degree would take--
President Johnson: That's a two year degree.
Amanda Smyser: Yeah two year degree take you about 6 quarters. If you went full time every quarter.
President Johnson: So about two years right?
Amanda Smyser: So we will give you three years to complete that, So 150% of the time frame.
President Johnson: So you have three years of financial aid eligibility if you're working toward a two year degree.
Amanda Smyser: Yes.
President Johnson: Do you have to stay enrolled every term?
Amanda Smyser: No not at all, we only count the terms that you are enrolled and so we have students who maybe have taken 10 years to end their degree because there's been periods where they had to take time off school. And that's fine we only count the terms that you were actually attending.
President Johnson: So would it be correct for me to say then that you are eligible for financial aid if you're seeking a two year degree up to three years worth of being at school?
Amanda Smyser: Yes.
President Johnson: So that could end up being five, six, seven, eight or as you even said 10 years--
Amanda Smyser: Mm-hmm
President Johnson: So this is an important thing to know. There is a limit to the financial aid you can receive based on a degree that you are seeking in terms of the time length. But you can have it count in terms of the clock based on the time that you're enrolled at the college?
Amanda Smyser: Yep and there's definitely, if things happen and maybe you need to take a little extra time we have petition processes in place so if a student feels like they've been taking a while to complete their degree we always encourage them to come talk with us, meet with an advisor to make an academic plan because we wanna make sure that they can get financial aid for their whole degree and have that plan so they're gonna be the most successful and have the majority at minimum, of their education funded.
President Johnson: Excellent now are there other things that students need to know when they're receiving financial aid? Does it cover all kinds of classes the students want to take or what happens if they don't pass a class or they have to withdraw from a class? Because that's a normal thing, happens to most students at one time or another, they don't do well in the class or they have to withdraw from a course. Or they like to take all sorts of different kinds of classes because they're exploring all sorts of possibilities. Are there any rules or things that we could share with students today to help them know if there's anything else they need to be aware of if they're receiving financial aid?
Amanda Smyser: Unfortunately financial aid can only pay for classes that count towards your degree of study. So each quarter financial aid will go through and check a student's schedule and make sure that based on degree audit, the students the classes are taking count for that degree.
President Johnson: Wait pause, again because as listeners, we're getting this but I'm not sure whether everybody would understand this. So if you say for example you want to study engineering financial aid officers will be making sure that the courses you're taking fit to that degree that you say you're planning to study. And so financial aid will pay for all courses related to that degree and that means electives and also the required classes, but for that degree. But it would also mean if you're an exploratory student 'cause we have lots of exploratory students here they haven't decided what they're going to study and they might not until they go on to their transfer institution where they go next. How does then that work if you're an exploratory student, you don't have a degree or an area of study yet?
Amanda Smyser: Every student will have a degree listed in registration that they are pursuing. Oftentimes if a student wants to maybe explore classes or take a more general degree we'll encourage them to meet with an advisor in the Academic and Advising office and discuss which classes they're really kinda wanting to take. And the advisor can then point them in the direction of which degree those classes fall under. So then they're still getting to explore the different options but then also have financial aid pay for it because those classes do count for their degree of study.
President Johnson: Excellent so it's probably an AA and a DTA?
Amanda Smyser: Yes usually that's what it ends up being.
President Johnson: So that means an Associate of Arts degree which is a two year degree direct transfer articulation. Which is another way of saying, you're taking lots of classes across different areas we call it general education. Which are a lot of the electives that you would potentially need for whatever the major ends up being. Whether you have one here or someplace else. Are there any other sort of pieces of advice or cautions that you wanna share with students today?
Amanda Smyser: The other thing with financial aid is part of your agreement when you are receiving financial aid is that you are gonna meet the requirements of our academic progress policy.
President Johnson: What does that mean?
Amanda Smyser: The I know.
President Johnson: Academic progress.
Amanda Smyser: The big scary word, but basically what that is is that is the guidelines for passing your classes that you need to meet in order to keep receiving financial aid.
President Johnson: So I'm thinking that there's two things connected to that. One is your average, your grade average probably needs to be a 2.0 or higher?
Amanda Smyser: Yep that is correct.
President Johnson: And that means a C average or better.
Amanda Smyser: Mm-hmm
President Johnson: And then there's another part to that isn't there? In terms of how many credits you've taken and how many you succeed in.
Amanda Smyser: Yep so it's basically, the two parts are having that cumulative 2.0 GPA for the quarter.
President Johnson: Your average.
Amanda Smyser: And completing all the classes you attempt.
President Johnson: So all of them except that sometimes you might have a withdraw or a not pass, a fail grade is that a problem?
Amanda Smyser: It can be a problem depending on the situation. So for example say a student starts the course and starts the quarter and 15 credits and then about midway through the quarter they're really struggling in math and decide that they need to drop the math class so they withdraw form one of their three classes. At the end of the quarter what's going to happen is for financial aid purposes we're gonna see that they only completed 10 of 15 credits. And that's going to be what's called a financial aid warning. So it's just a warning, you still get funding going forward but it's kinda just a notice to the student, okay we saw you dropped a class next quarter you wanna make sure you complete all your attempted credits and get that 2.0 GPA.
President Johnson: This brings up a really important issue that I think students need to listen carefully to, a lot of times when you're in course work you may have a course that you realize isn't going to be successful for you for whatever the reasons might be. You might need some additional tutoring you might need to take a prior course to be better prepared for that course or life is challenging and you're taking a heavy, challenging load in courses and it's a lot to handle in one term. And so you're contemplating withdrawing from a course or withdrawing from a course to avoid a failing grade. That's always an option however I want to caution all of you out there listeners to please go and discuss that with a financial aid advisor in our financial aid office before you do that to understand what the consequence of that will be. It might be completely fine and that you just understand as Amanda was just explaining to you how you need to perform the next term but sometimes it can create troubles that you were not necessarily anticipating. And sometimes it's better to find ways to work with your class instructor in terms of having a successful completion of that class even if it might not be the highest grade that you were hoping for. So that you can keep in good standing in terms of your credits attempted and completed. Now I know that we're in some detail here but this becomes really really important. Coursework and financial aid are connected and so it's always good before dropping a class to consult with a financial aid advisor if you're receiving financial aid before doing that. Having a conversation with your class instructor our faculty are wonderful, and they will want to support and assist what decision is best for you at the same time they're not financial aid advisors that's why we have different people on our campuses. It's good to speak with you instructor and it's also good to speak with your financial aid advisors to get a full picture of what the consequences are.
Amanda Smyser: Yeah and that's definitely the best advice that really anyone could ever give. If students come in and talk to us 'cause sometimes if you're dropping your class today it can make a difference whether you dropped it today or tomorrow. And we are here so we can tell you that and we can give you the full picture and let you know exactly, okay if you do that then this is gonna happen, this is gonna happen and this is where you're going to be at next quarter. A lot of times a big one is whether a student is taking a class, wants to take it pass-fail or credit-no credit and that one can really impact financially and so if a student comes in and talks to us we can really give you all the different options and let you know what the consequences are gonna be of each option.
President Johnson: And all of those options are completely reasonable and can happen on occasion within seeking a degree. It's just a matter of knowing what the consequences are. So even though we're using that word consequence it doesn't always necessarily mean it's a negative or it's a problem. It's just being best informed.
Amanda Smyser: Yeah and then that way too if you're going to owe back money for some reason then you know ahead of time that you have this bill coming up which goes into all the financial literacy information we were talking about earlier and making a budget. Then you can budget for that expense you know that's coming up.
President Johnson: Excellent so what other resources should we send our students to? We've got lots of information happening in this episode in terms of the offices, where to go, all the options they have available to them in terms of Benefits Hub and scholarships and financial aid options what other kinds of resources might we have?
Amanda Smyser: On the topic of financial literacy Green River actually purchased a new financial literacy software called iGRAD online
President Johnson: iGRAD, I-G-R-A-D?
Amanda Smyser: Mm-hmm
President Johnson: Where do you find that?
Amanda Smyser: If you go to the financial aid website on Green River's main website, greenriver.edu we have an actual financial literacy section and it'll have the link front and center that'll take you to--
President Johnson: Called iGRAD?
Amanda Smyser: Yep.
President Johnson: So tell us more about that, what is that?
Amanda Smyser: It kinda goes back to all the different tools and budgeting tips that Kirsten was talking about but iGRAD has designed a lot of financial literacy courses is what they call them--
President Johnson: Courses in quotations, little tutorials? Little modules that students can go through?
Amanda Smyser: They're all different some of them are tutorials, modules but they cover a wide range of topics ranging from student loans to how to purchase a house, how to manage credit card debt, basically just any sort of topic or question you would have about your finances they have little modules or help guides or just information about that for you to go through and just learn.
President Johnson: Do you have to be a Green River College student to do that? Can staff and faculty take advantage of that option?
Amanda Smyser: Yeah definitely, anybody on Green River can do that. I have an account myself I've gone through a few of the courses and I actually learned a few things. And since it's such a wide range of topics staff and faculty will probably find it just as beneficial as students.
President Johnson: This is really great, so this iGRAD offers some online courses we're not talking about 10 week courses but courses and educational segments that you can read about, answer questions and learn from in this iGRAD program.
Amanda Smyser: Yep and it's just a great resource it's completely free so you can get help and tools that normally you would have to pay for to get this kind of quality of information. But Green River has purchased it for you and it's yours to use free of charge.
President Johnson: That is fantastic. Okay so it's on our financial aid website at the Green River webpage and we just link right through and it's gonna be very prominent to see it there?
Amanda Smyser: Yep and as soon as you click the link it'll prompt you to make your account and as soon as you make your account you will be in.
President Johnson: And as a reminder to our listeners at the end of this episode we'll be posting a variety of different resources linked to this episode at greenriver.edu/gatorcast and we'll have those links for you there listed as well. So it sounds to me like there's a thousand good reasons, maybe it's a thousand and one good reasons for every one of the listeners out there who are currently students whether you're receiving financial aid or not if you're wondering about how to manage your money, how to effectively get through college with either no debt or a low level of debt that there are people here on our campus waiting to help you and assist you every day that this college is open. And Kirsten down in our Advising and Career office first floor of our Student Affairs building and Amanda whose up in financial aid they're just one of many people that are here waiting to assist. Whether it's financial literacy and budgeting for your financial independence, or whether it's helping find ways to finance your education through financial aid, grants and other scholarship opportunities. So before we close today we like to end episodes where there's a call to action. And I think I just kind of threw one out there which is, come find our offices, call our offices, reach out to Kirsten, Amanda their colleagues and their offices, ask the questions, try not to feel self conscious, if you have a question there are many other students that have the same question and this is normal this is why you're in college to figure it all out. And that's why we have people in these offices to help people find their way. But what are the kinds of last pieces of advice today on this episode of financial aid 101, financial literacy which you have for our listeners? And what other kinds of calls to action might you want to ask our students today?
Amanda Smyser: I'll start with financial aid. If you are currently receiving financial aid or if you're thinking about getting financial aid in the future, you're gonna be a student next year right now the new FAFSA and WASFA applications are open.
President Johnson: Those are application forms that you have to fill out for either financial aid from the state that's the WASFA or from our federal government the FAFSA.
Amanda Smyser: Yep and those applications are the first step in starting the financial aid process. So if you are on financial aid right now and you haven't done your new application for next school year, so next Fall quarter. That application is open now and our priority deadline for that is March 1st. Which will be here before you know it.
President Johnson: March 1st everybody for next academic year meaning Fall 2019 through Spring of 2020 March 1st is the deadline.
Amanda Smyser: And I would just say please please please do your application as soon as possible because we hate it when students are all set to start in the Fall but then they find out they haven't completed the financial aid process. And it just derails everything.
President Johnson: So planning is everything. It's one of those situations where you can't just necessarily pop into the office and get it done in an hour. It's likely that the student needs to come have an appointment and that might take them a few days to get the information that they need to complete these applications. Is that true?
Amanda Smyser: That is correct. We do every day from 2 to 3 p.m. we have a drop in FAFSA WASFA application help hour.
President Johnson: Every day from 2:00 to 3:00 drop in help hour for how to do WASFA and FAFSA.
Amanda Smyser: Yep so we can at least get you started get you going on the applications help you if you're stuck at one spot. So if you want to drop in for that we definitely would love to have you. But it is also something you can do on your own at home.
President Johnson: Excellent. And other calls to action or advice?
Kirsten Weber: Another one would be come and visit the Benefits Hub and see Savannah and Thomas who are there who can help you out with so many different areas. So that would be good to come and visit them too.
President Johnson: Excellent, and Savannah and Thomas both work in our Benefits Hub which is connected, co-located with our Career and Advising Center in student affairs as is the financial aid office. Well Kirsten and Amanda, thank you for being here today. I want you all to know listeners out there that we have a number of additional resources available for this episode and you can find them at greenriver.edu/gatorcast where you'll find additional resources listed for this episode today. That's also where you can subscribe to the podcast at Green River College. And again that's greenriver.edu/gatorcast you'll find additional resources linked to this episode entitled Financial Aid 101 and Financial Literacy. I wanna thank you all for listening today this was Suzanne Johnson, you all have a great gator day.