Dispelling a Financial Aid Myth

By Rodney Wilson, Student Success and Retention Analyst

One of the most common misconceptions about financial aid is that the only students who qualify are either exceptionally smart or exceptionally poor. This is a myth that financial aid administrators consistently attempt to dispel. The truth is there are many types of financial aid that are not based solely on academic performance or financial need. You might be surprised at the number of eligible students who do not receive financial aid because of lack of information or misinformation.

Financial aid can originate from a wide variety of sources. The Department of Education defines financial aid as, “Financial help for eligible students to pay for education expenses at an eligible postsecondary school.” This financial help can come in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study, veteran’s assistance and educational loans.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Federal government is a major source for financial aid. The first step in receiving federal financial aid is to complete the FAFSA. This form can be submitted on January 1 of the year your student will enter college. The most important word in the FAFSA acronym is “free.” To complete a FAFSA, access www.fafsa.gov. If a student requires assistance in completing the FAFSA, he or she does not have to pay for assistance or share personal information with a third party. The Department of Education provides free help. Students may contact the department at 1.800.4.FED.AID (1.800.433.3243).


Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are very similar. Both scholarships and grants are free monies awarded to students and both generally require an application to meet certain criteria. The primary differences are the origin of the funds and their specific designation. For example, any organization can provide a scholarship while grants are normally federally or state funded (i.e. Pell Grant or Rhode Island State Grant). Scholarships are generally based on individual academic performance. Scholarships and grants can be made available to students based on projects designed to strengthen and enhance the capacity of a certain group of students (i.e. Hispanic Scholarship Fund or Health Professions’ Grants). For additional information on scholarships, go to http://www.oru.edu/financial_assistance/undergraduate/scholarships.php.


Work-Study

Work-study is a work program for full-time college students. The program has two primary objectives: to assist college students in meeting their educational expenses and to compliment and reinforce the student’s educational or career goals. Other benefits of work-study include the opportunity to build the student’s resume as well as provide a convenient, on-campus work location. While work-study may be included in the student’s financial aid package, it does not guarantee employment. The student must submit an application to the supervisor of an open work-study position. If the student is hired, he or she will receive bi-weekly pay based on his or her hours worked. For additional information regarding work-study, go to http://www.oru.edu/current_students/my_services/career_services/students/student_work_study_campus_employment.php


Veterans’ Educational Benefits

Oral Roberts University is fully recognized by the Veterans’ Administration. Veterans desiring to take advantage of educational benefits must initiate procedures with the Veterans’ Administration, which will issue ORU a Certificate of Eligibility. Once the student is admitted to ORU, the procedure for receiving benefits should be initiated in the Registrar’s office. Veterans and their families may qualify for benefits that include payment of tuition and fees, monthly housing stipends and a stipend for books and supplies. Information is available at www.gibill.va.gov or by calling 1.888.GI.BILL.1 (1.888.442.4551). Students may access http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp  for application details.


Educational Loans

Educational loans are funds borrowed for educational purposes that must be repaid. There are primarily two types of educational loans: federal educational loans and private educational loans. Federal educational loans are funds borrowed through the federal government. These loans generally offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private educational loans. Private educational loans are funded through banks, credit unions or other lending institutions. These loans often have higher interest rates, require credit checks and do not offer the same flexibility in repayment as federal educational loans.

Federal loans can be subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized federal loans (i.e. Federal Perkins loan) are loans which the government pays the interest while the student is enrolled at least part time. The government does not pay the interest for unsubsidized federal loans (i.e. Parent Plus loan). For more information on the loan process visit http://www.oru.edu/financial_assistance/undergraduate/educational_loans.php.


Other Financial Aid Sources

ORU has a variety of departmental and program awards based on leadership, service, and talent such as music, art, student publications, resident advisor (RA), chaplain and academic peer advisor (APA) positions. Students interested in these awards need to contact the individual departments for more information.


Financial Aid Tips

  • Be diligent in your scholarship search
  • Meet deadlines
  • Use appropriate websites for scholarship searches
  • Ensure scholarship applications are submitted in a timely, accurate and professional manner
  • Be aware of scholarship or financial aid scams that advertise
    • A scholarship guarantee
    • Exclusive scholarship information that cannot be found anywhere else
    • Request for credit card or bank information to hold the scholarship
    • Selection by a “national foundation” for a scholarship contest you never entered

The Department of Education has resources to assist students in scholarship searches as well as planning, preparing and paying for college. To access these resources go to www.college.gov.

Also, feel free to visit the ORU Interactive Support Center at http://faq.oru.edu for access to frequently asked questions, live chats and e-mail.