By Chelsea Davis, Contributing Writer
Full-time students who qualify for federal financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may also qualify for federal work study (FWS), which allows students to get a job on campus while also being able to prioritize classes and coursework.
Work study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate students with financial need and allows students to earn money to help pay education expenses. This program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study. “For FWS specifically, the student would have the award as part of their financial aid package since FWS is a need-based financial award contingent on FAFSA information,” said Joseph Toner, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at UMF. “However, having FWS is not a prerequisite to working on campus as students can be hired within the work initiative program or within a department-funded position.”
UMF has a wide variety of work study jobs on campus open only to students who qualify for FWS. “We have students working in just about every department on campus, from admissions, to athletics, to the library,” said Toner. “Our student workers literally make our campus go.”
Troy Johnson, an employee at the Fitness and Recreational Center (FRC), has had a positive experience working as a part of FWS. “I like working in the gym atmosphere,” Johnson said. “I have made new connections working with other students on campus. I would highly recommend federal work study for students in need of a little extra money to help pay off education expenses.”
The level of commitment that is expected for student employment jobs are just like any job. Supervisors will expect student workers to show up on time, perform quality work, and follow instruction. “As long as you follow what is asked of you and you get everything done on time it is a super easy job and a great experience too,” said Elena Guarino, who works in the library through FWS.
Because FWS is part of the student’s financial aid package and the job is also on campus, students working FWS positions are able to easily prioritize their classes and coursework while also doing their FWS job. “Some things that I do at my job consist of cleaning equipment, checking students in, and I can also work on homework,” Johnson said.
With a full-time courseload, Johnson is able to work up to four hours a day three days a week. “Typically these work study jobs have flexible schedules,” said Johnson.
Utilizing work study is beneficial because working on campus allows students to gain real-life work experience that can help students learn interpersonal communication skills and time management while also earning money to help pay for some of the costs associated with attending college. “Employers love to see student work on a resume,” said Toner. “It shows that the student gained valuable experience while in college, even if the work now is not directly related to your plans for a post-UMF career.”
To locate the FWS job list and learn about FWS, work initiative, and on-campus jobs, students can email firstname.lastname@example.org or log into the MyCampus Portal, go to the Student Services pull-down menu, and select Financial Services. Work study positions will start opening up at the end of the spring. Once students find a job on campus they would like to pursue, it is important to reach out to the supervisor of that certain work position, it is best to reach out through email.
by Brittney Lee, Contributing Writer
UMF students have begun filing their FAFSAs in preparation for the 2021-2022 school year.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines the amount of aid that a student receives for their schooling, and must be completed by March 1harley carter
, 2021. However students should complete it as soon as possible—if any issues arise or changes need to be made to their applications.
Second year student, Harley Carter, said in an email, “I have not started [my FAFSA]yet, but I plan to in the next week or so, as it is better to get it in early.”
If the FAFSA is not finished by the deadline, students may not receive financial aid. UMF junior, Ali-Banks Mitchell said via email “last year I applied late and I learned my lesson.”
Not filing on time can cause some unwanted issues for students in need of financial aid. “I couldn’t get a work study or a federal pell grant.” Banks said. “I lost out on about $7,000 dollars just from filing late.”
Thankfully an issue like this isn’t impossible to fix, Banks said “I had to appeal to get the aid I usually receive and even then I still owed more than I did last year.”
Students may also struggle to get financial information from one or both parents when filling out the FAFSA. Carter said via email “It is hard for me to file because there is a lot of back and forth with my mom about her financial information.”
“My parents are divorced so I have to include my step-father on the application along with my mother. This makes filing complicated because I am consistently tracking them both down for their financial information,” said Carter.
To help get the FAFSA done correctly and on time students can visit Merrill Center as well as speak with the Financial Literacy Peer Educators on campus, known as “FinLit”.
FinLit is a resource for students to use for advice on budgeting as well as assist students when filing their FAFSA. Mitchell said in an email “I went once when I was stressed about my bill my freshman year to see what I could do before going to Merrill.”
Students can visit studentaid.gov to start and submit their FAFSA. This website also contains contact information if there are any questions or concerns about filing. Students can also visit Merrill if they are struggling with their financial aid.
Ripley Biggs Contributing Writer
Recently the University of Maine System (UMS) announced that they are unveiling a new initiative called “Maine Values You,” to bring more students to UMS institutions. This will proactively reach out to members of the graduating high school classes of 2020 who will be attending a UMS institution, aiming to cover all tuition and fees for more than 1,200 of these students, according to a recent UMS press release.
The message, which will be seen on television and social media, is coming from UMS newly appointed Chancellor Dannel Malloy, formerly the Governor of Connecticut, who outlines the work the System has been doing over the past six years to make Maine’s Public Universities affordable to everyone. This affordability has been attained by tuition and fees being capped for the past six years, with increases only being made to keep up with inflation.
In addition, more financial aid has been made available to Maine students to help make paying for college less of a burden if they attend a public university. By attending a state-supported school, students owe about $4,000 a year less than their peers who chose to attend one of Maine’s private universities or who choose to go out of state.
The deal is even better for those attending the University of Maine Augusta, Fort Kent, Presque Isle or Machias. Through the tuition guarantee program of each of these four UMS locations, qualified and eligible in-state, full-time, first-year students will not pay any out-of-pocket expenses for tuition and fees.
According to UMS Executive Director of Public Affairs, Dan Demeritt, “The gap between the cost of higher education and the student’s ability to pay for that education using full financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships has gotten smaller.”
In fact, the high school class of 2018 saw 1,142 freshmen, which was 40% of the incoming freshman class to UMS schools, receiving a high-quality education free from all tuition and fee charges. The “Maine Values You” initiative was formed in order to formally build on the success that UMS has seen for the students with the most need.
Last year $11 million in scholarship money was collected from alumni, civic organizations and other Maine businesses.
In the aforementioned press release, Jack Ryan, President of Wright-Ryan Construction in Portland as well as University of Southern Maine (USM) Foundation Board member and UMS community donor, stated, “Education is the best investment money can buy. . . initiatives like USM’s Promise Scholarship [helps] underserved young achievers from Maine the chance they deserve to attend and graduate college with little or no student debt.”
UMF President Edward Serna is supportive of the “Maine Values You” initiative, as he said, “The commitment to cover tuition and fees for 1,200 new Maine students next fall is another important way we can put the power of a UMF education — and all the benefits it provides — within reach of Maine students and their families.”
As the money from this initiative will be going only to the incoming class of Fall 2020, current UMS students will not be able to access this funding. However, the younger siblings of current students may be able to take advantage of this program.
The first step to receiving this aid is filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) which is the form completed by current and prospective college students in the U.S. to determine eligibility for financial aid.
According to the Finance Authority of Maine, as cited by the UMS press release, 2,595 Maine students did not complete the FAFSA which resulted in over $10 million in Pell Grants left unused (Pell Grants being federal student loans that don’t require a repayment from the student).
The UMS hopes the “Maine Values You” program will encourage every Maine student to at least fill out the form even if they don’t think they are college-bound. “We hope to meet the need for as many students as we can, for as long as we can,” said Demeritt.
Financial Literacy Column
Every year millions of students fail to file the free application providing them with the financial aid necessary to continue their college education. That free application is the FAFSA, and it’s mandatory that students who will be returning to school the following year file the application.
The financial aid provided by the FAFSA includes grants and work-study eligibility, in addition to federally subsidized and unsubsidized student loans.
Grants, like the Pell Grant, are free money, meaning the student does not have to pay it back after graduation. Federal Student Loans, like any loan, must be paid back. They are the only student loans with six-month grace period after graduation, while other loans require payments to be made right away, making repayment much more difficult.
As of Oct. 1, students are able to file the FAFSA for the 2020-21 school year. If a student files a FAFSA with the Educators before Nov. 1, they will be entered to win a cash prize.
Students can reach out to the UMF Financial Literacy Peer Education Program by emailing email@example.com or DMing them on Instagram @umf_finlit.