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E-mail Notifications

Posted by: Justin Mysock | November 5, 2013 | No Comment |

Financial Aid uses the official CofC email accounts to communicate information about financial aid awards and missing documents.  Click here for details

under: Financial Aid

Tax Benefits for Higher Education

Posted by: Justin Mysock | November 1, 2013 | No Comment |

NASFAA has published the Parent and Student Guide to Federal Tax Benefits for Tuition and Fees with general guidance to federal education-related benefits.
Click here for details

under: Financial Aid

Scholarships Renewed with Summer School

Posted by: Aron | August 8, 2013 | No Comment |

Lately I have received the following question plenty: I’m taking a summer course to boost my GPA and/or hours enough to keep my scholarship. If my grade does not post until next week but the tuition bill is due what should I do?

Students in that situation have three feasible options:

1)      Pay the bill in full. If the scholarship comes through, you’ll receive a refund for the Fall scholarship.

2)      Set up the payment plan and make first payment. If the scholarship comes through, your remaining payments will be reduced. If it covers all the remaining payments and there are still funds left, you’ll get those refunded to you. (This is probably the most popular option.)

3)      Borrow enough loans to cover the bill. If the scholarship comes through, you can decrease the loans.

There’s also the not-so-feasible option of hoping that the Treasurer doesn’t drop you from your classes, but I cannot recommend that choice.

Summer II grades post on Wednesday the 14th; scholarship renewals should be completed by Monday the 19th. For courses elsewhere, scholarships renewals should be offered in MyCharleston a week after the course shows up on your Unofficial Transcript as transfer credit.

I suppose that’s pretty much the same answer to the question ‘I just did my FAFSA last week, will my aid be ready?’ except those students don’t have the loans option available.

under: Financial Aid
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Busy Season

Posted by: Aron | July 17, 2013 | 4 Comments |

So it is the busy season in financial aid (July and August). Call and email volume is really high right now, so we are not answering every phone call on the first ring and every email in 5 minutes. Here are some hints, in no particular order, on how you help yourself before you call or email.

1) Read the email. I’m amazed that people will complain about sitting on hold for x number of minutes to speak with someone and then ask something like, ‘I just got an email saying I was missing something and I wanted to find out what it is.’ The email gives instructions on how to find out what it is. Usually those instructions include logging into MyCharleston.

2) Check MyCharleston. Don’t call to ask if we received your fax;  when we receive documents, we update MyCharleston.

3) Review the website. We try to publish as much to our website as possible, so many questions are already answered. It can be a bit daunting to read all the pages, so use the search box.

4) Don’t duplicate email. If you have emailed in the past two working days, please do not email again or call. Often it means that both emails get answered and if the request involves changing a student’s record (like canceling a loan) then the second person is confused about your request because it has already been done.

5) Be prepared when you call/email. If you can’t find the answer any other way, please have the College of Charleston ID number ready when you call or include it in your email.

I can assure you that my coworkers want to help as much as possible, but we have a finite amount of staff/time. So when you spend five minutes asking us questions that you could have easily found the answer to, that’s five less minutes that we can spend with someone with a difficult situation, or five minutes longer until we can get a document reviewed/entered.

under: Financial Aid

$529 Bonus to 529 Plans for 5/29 Babies

Posted by: Aron | May 31, 2013 | No Comment |

The Future Scholars, the SC 529 college savings plan, has announced that they will give a $529 bonus to any accounts opened before August 30 which list a child born on 5/29/2013 as a beneficiary. Visit their website for all the details.

Even if your child wasn’t born this past Wednesday, a 529 savings plan is a great way to prepare for college.

  1. There are tax benefits.
  2. It can really add up. $50 a month over 18 years is over $10,000, but could grow to $30,000, depending on your rate of return.
  3. Your can change the beneficiary if your child does not need the funds for college.
  4. Family members can make gift donations.
  5. It makes discussions with financial aid offices so much easier. (Oh, how I wish every conversation start with, “We’ve got thousands saved up and want to figure out how to best spread it over four years.”)
  6. It sends a strong message to your child that you expect them to attend college.

While I doubt that a lot of people reading this blog have newborns, perhaps you know someone for whom this information would be useful.

under: Financial Aid
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Complete Verification Now!

Posted by: Aron | May 29, 2013 | No Comment |

Students that were selected for verification should turn in their documents as soon as possible, preferably this week. Assuming everything goes as planned, we’re going to begin awarding federal and need-based aid to everybody except entering freshmen in about two weeks. When we do, we will ignore students who have not completed verification.

Verification Worksheets can be delivered by hand to our location in the Lightsey Center; faxed to us at 843-953-7192; mailed to the Office of Financial Assistance, College of Charleston, 66 George St., Charleston, SC 29424; or scanned and emailed to financialaid@cofc.edu (my favorite). If the IRS Data Retrieval tool is available, I highly recommend using it as it only takes minutes. By comparison, the  Tax Return Transcript takes at least three weeks.

Since it takes about a week for documents that have been turned in to be reviewed and verification to be complete, now is the time to turn in the documents.

Fun stat: Of all valid FAFSA’s that we’ve loaded, 76.5% were NOT selected for verification.

under: Financial Aid

Upgraded ROTC Information

Posted by: Aron | April 26, 2013 | No Comment |

I recently expanded the information available on our website about the College’s joint ROTC programs with the Citadel (Army) and Charleston Southern (Air Force). You can check it out at go.cofc.edu/rotc. Special thanks Michael in the President’s Office for gathering the content, the hardest part of website creation.

under: Financial Aid

I recently had a student ask me how much the average graduate from the College has in student loan indebtedness. In reviewing the student loan page, I saw that our stated figure came from the Common Data Set. For those that aren’t data nerds like I, the CDS is a group of facts and figures reported to various government agencies. I like reviewing it to dispel bad facts, for example the female to male ratio at the College is  1.7 to 1, not 100 to 1 or whatever random number you’ve heard.

After telling the student about our page, I realised that the 2012-2013 CDS is in the process of being released. I checked the Financial Aid section and it included the most recent average loan indebtedness figures for students graduating from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. I was surprised by two figures: H4: 47.8% of graduates had borrowed a student loan and H5a: $30,266 was the average amount of federal loan that those students had borrowed. Here’s what’s surprising to me.

47.8% of graduates had loan. The amazing part of this, to me, is the inverse: 52.2% of students graduate without student loan debt! Slightly over half of the students that crossed the Cistern last year did so without a pending loan payment. How do these students do this?

$30,266 average federal student loans borrowed. Of the remaining half of students, the average amount borrowed will require 10 years of $348 monthly payments. So how will this affect students in the first decade of their “adult life”? Will they take jobs because of the money instead of the career trajectory, will they delay buying a house, or getting married?

Hopefully in a future post I can list some ideas that we toss around our office for ways a student can keep student loan indebtedness down, hopefully down to zero. In the meantime, students or recent alumi please post what you did to borrow less or nothing.

under: Financial Aid
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Yesterday afternoon we made awards of federal and need-based aid to over 4,000 freshmen entering. This is quite possibly the earliest we’ve ever made the awards and I’m really excited that we got them out before Accepted Students Weekend.To be considered, a student must be admitted to the College as a first-time freshmen for next fall semester, have completed the FAFSA, and completed any missing documents except those associated with verification. Students that were awarded should have received an email prompting them to check MyCharleston. Students who complete a FAFSA after this point will only be considered for the funds which we have an “unlimited” supply of, e.g. Pell Grants and federal student loans.

So at this point, all the aid we’re going to award to entering freshmen has been awarded. The only additional funds would come from things the student has applied for such as departmental, specialty or outside scholarships or private student loans.

under: Financial Aid
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We received the first list of next year’s freshmen Palmetto Fellows from CHE last Friday and quickly set about awarding the scholarships. With a bit of clean-up, they were all awarded by this morning. Students that are applying with CHE for the June deadline will get awarded when we get that list, probably in August. Our Assistant Director for Scholarships also awarded the Palmetto Promise scholarships this weekend to South Carolina valedictorians, salutatorians and Palmetto Fellows who were not previously awarded an institutional scholarship.

Since we wrapped up awarding Avery scholarships last week and re-ran the LIFE and HOPE awarding programs this morning, that means that all state and institutional scholarships have been awarded for next fall’s entering freshmen. (We have not started awarding federal or need-based aid, but should soon. Returning student scholarship will begin awarding after spring grades post.)

Students that applied for departmental and specialty scholarships and were awarded, will hear from the awarding department before they notify us.

Last, I want to take a brief moment to remind everyone, in particular entering freshmen and their parents, that our office relies almost entirely on email notification, and those mostly to the student’s College email address.

under: Financial Aid
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