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Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 36: Financial Aid for Saint Leo’s WorldWide Students

Posted by Greg Lindberg on May 25, 2021
Episode 36: Financial Aid for Saint Leo's WorldWide Students

Download Episode 36 Transcript

Speaker 1:
Saint Leo 360 a 360-degree overview of the Saint Leo University community.

Greg Lindberg:
Hi there. And welcome to another episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. This is your host here, Greg Lindberg. On this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast we are speaking about financial aid, which is a very important topic to many current students, prospective students paying for colleges. Certainly important to so many individuals out there. And so, the focus of this conversation will be geared toward Saint Leo worldwide students, which encompasses our education centers and students in our online degree programs here at Saint Leo. And so, to help us with this important discussion, I'd like to welcome Amanda Black to the podcast. And Amanda is the associate director of communications and financial literacy in the student financial services department here at Saint Leo University. Amanda, welcome to the podcast.

Amanda Black:
Thank you.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Like I said, we got a lot of great info to talk about here, so we'll go ahead and dive right on in if that's okay.

Amanda Black:
Sounds good.

Greg Lindberg:
So first off, Amanda, let's talk about just the basic requirements that a Saint Leo worldwide student must meet in order to be eligible for financial aid.

Amanda Black:
Sure. Well, in terms of federal financial aid, eligibility really does vary from student to student. However, there are some basic federal eligibility requirements. And these are determined by completing a FAFSA, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. And the requirements for federal financial aid include the student must demonstrate financial need and be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen as well as having a valid social security number and be registered with selective service if they're a male. The student must also be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree program and be enrolled at least half time in order to qualify for the direct loan program. Also, the student must maintain satisfactory academic progress, and the student must also sign the certification statement on the FAFSA stating that they are not in default on a federal student loan. That they do not owe money on a federal student grant. And that they will use federal student aid only for educational purposes. And lastly, the student must have a high school diploma, a GED, or an approved homeschool education, or its equivalent.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see. So there definitely are several requirements and certainly a lot of detail in that. In terms of undergraduate versus graduate students, I feel like there might be some misconceptions out there about financial aid for grad students. I feel like some people might think that only undergrads tend to be eligible for financial aid, but I know that's definitely not the case. So let's talk about the difference specifically with worldwide students when it comes to undergrad versus grad students.

Amanda Black:
Sure. In general, there is more financial aid out there for undergraduate students, but graduate students are definitely eligible. And, of course, the difference in financial aid varies from person to person. But generally, graduate students are only eligible for federal unsubsidized loans, while undergraduate students may be eligible for subsidized loans. Undergraduate students may also be eligible for federal grants such as the Pell Grant, which unfortunately is not available to graduate students.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see. Interesting. I know you did mention the FAFSA earlier. Let's talk a little more about that. What does that actually stand for? What does that mean? And why would you say that's so important?

Amanda Black:
Sure. The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it's the first step in applying for financial aid. The new FAFSA application opens every year on October 1st, and it's so important to complete the new year application as soon as it's available. And this is crucial because some financial aid funding is limited and provided to students on a first come first served basis based on completing the FAFSA. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the FAFSA and completing it as soon as possible.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. Very interesting. So I guess you could say that's really a student's ticket to federal financial aid in general.

Amanda Black:
That is a great way of putting it. Yes.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. And then, in terms of the worldwide students that we're talking about, as far as online students, education center students, students in both of those categories, are they both eligible for financial aid?

Amanda Black:
Yes, definitely. As long as students are enrolled in eligible programs and meeting all eligibility requirements, federal financial aid is available to all Saint Leo University students, regardless of how they choose to attend classes.

Greg Lindberg:
And then, I do know that Saint Leo University, we certainly have education centers in addition to online students living in many different states across the country. And let's talk about just the differences between students in one state versus another and how financial aid might differ for those students.

Amanda Black:
Sure. Well, in addition to federal funds, some students may qualify for state aid funding, and Saint Leo does participate in Florida and Georgia state aid programs. So those are two great sources of financial aid for students. In terms of Florida state grants, there's the EASE Grant. There's Florida Student Assistant Grant, or FSAG. There's also Bright Futures and Minority Teacher Education Scholarships. And those are for Florida students. There's also Georgia state grants. And those include The HOPE, TEG, and Zell Miller Scholarships.

Amanda Black:
And in terms of supporting students from all 50 states. Student financial services assist students with completing state requirements for funding, as well as regularly reaches out to students to encourage them to apply for stated funding. So we are here to answer any questions in relation to state aid programs, as well as help students navigate the process and ensure that all their forms are turned in timely and correctly.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see. So we definitely support students. It sounds like no matter where they're living. Wherever they reside, they can certainly come to you guys for any type of questions support. It sounds like.

Amanda Black:
Exactly.

Greg Lindberg:
Awesome. In terms of scholarships, what types of internal scholarships does Saint Leo University offer to worldwide students?

Amanda Black:
Well, we have a good handful of privately funded scholarships that are available to all Saint Leo students, and worldwide students are, of course, included in this. Students can visit our academic works platform online in order to view these scholarships. That platform is at ww.saintleo.edu/scholarships. And there, students can search the academic works website for scholarship opportunities, as well as apply for specific scholarships or submit a general scholarship application. We also encourage students that are working full time to reach out to their employer's benefits department to determine whether they offer tuition reimbursement or other learning incentives. Saint Leo has a lot of corporate partnerships that offer discounts to students attending the university. So we'd like to always encourage students to research all of their funding options, especially those that be available through their employer.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. That's a great point. As far as employer-funded financial aid, why a company would turn down someone that wants to develop professionally, get another degree, and what have you. I mean, there's so many benefits to that. So that's a great point. As far as grants go, what types of grants does Saint Leo offer to worldwide students?

Amanda Black:
In terms of worldwide students, there's, of course, plenty of federal grants. Those include the Pell Grant, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG for short. There's also TEACH Grants for students in education programs, and the eligibility for these grants are determined by using the FAFSA. So again, just to emphasize, it's very important to complete the FAFSA. And as mentioned earlier, there's Florida state grants. Those are the EASE, Florida Student Assistant Grant, Bright Futures, and Minority Teacher Education Scholarships. And worldwide, students are also eligible for Georgia state grants, such as the HOPE Grant, TEG, and Zell Miller Scholarships.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, wow. So there certainly are a lot of opportunities out there for grants.

Amanda Black:
There really are. It's a matter of filling out the FAFSA and then reaching out to your state to find out what may be available for you to use.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure, I see. Very interesting. I did want to mention Saint Leo, we certainly have a large number of military students, whether it's active duty, reservists, veterans. We have a large military population and certainly love our military students and support them in many different ways. And I do know that there are several financial aid opportunities options for military students in each of those categories. And if you could just speak a little bit about those.

Amanda Black:
I would be happy to. Saint Leo University offers programs that are approved for military tuition assistance and veteran administration education benefits or VA education benefits for short. And VA education benefits help veterans, service members and their qualified family members pay for college. On the other hand, military tuition assistance is a benefit paid to eligible members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Each service has its own criteria for eligibility, as well as their own application processes and restrictions. It's important that future students that are interested in these verify their eligibility with their branch's military education.

Amanda Black:
It's also worth mentioning that Saint Leo University does not determine military tuition assistance or VA education benefit eligibility for students. A student's eligibility for these benefits is unfortunately out of our hands, otherwise, we would be happy to give it to pretty much anyone who qualifies for it. Also, in terms of financial aid benefits, military, active duty, reserve guard, and their spouses are eligible to receive the discounted tuition rate for all undergraduate worldwide programs. The discounted tuition rate is also offered to eligible students that are in graduate programs offered at education centers and online. Furthermore, there are also privately funded scholarships available to Saint Leo military-affiliated students. And again, students can visit the academic works platform online to search for these scholarship opportunities and apply for specific scholarships.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very interesting, and I know I have had the opportunity to speak with many of our students, alumni who've been in the military or currently serving. And they say going into the military for many of them is a big reason as far as getting their college covered and that financial aid support. So it's really wonderful that all the branches offer such support in that regard and that Saint Leo is really there as well to back up students, to support them, to assist them through that process of the paperwork.

Amanda Black:
It is. It's wonderful that we can serve our community this way.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. And just to kind of wrap up, as far as the student financial services team. In general, how would you say that the team can support students as far as you know those in worldwide, whether it's education center students or online students?

Amanda Black:
Sure. Well, we understand that the financial aid process can be confusing and often overwhelming. And we also understand that financing your education is a huge determining factor. So our goal in student financial services is to help students through that process. Our student financial advisors can assist students with many things, including FAFSA questions, determining financial aid eligibility, completing required forms, student account questions, making payments, and lots more. We are here for the students, and our goal is to just make it as smooth and as easy as possible.

Greg Lindberg:
That's great. So you could really say, there's no question that's too complicated, too difficult for you guys to handle.

Amanda Black:
I'm not going to say they don't get complicated, but we do our best. And we are usually almost always able to provide answers.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. That's wonderful. And so, let's conclude here with the contact information for student financial services. If someone is interested in reaching out to you guys, has a question about something, how can they reach the team?

Amanda Black:
Sure. Students and potential students, and parents that have questions are welcome to call student financial services. We have a toll-free line. That number is (800) 240-7658. Our student financial advisors are available by phone Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM Eastern standard time. People are also welcome to email their questions to student financial support, and that email address is SFS@saintleo.edu. We also encourage people to use our chatbot, Leah, who is on our website, and she can direct users to lots of helpful videos and links the general questions.

Greg Lindberg:
Excellent. And I can certainly include the links to all that information in the show notes for this podcast episode so that everyone has that information easily accessible to them as well.

Amanda Black:
Fantastic.

Greg Lindberg:
Alrighty, wonderful. Again, we've been chatting with Amanda Black with student financial services here at Saint Leo University. And Amanda, I just want to thank you so much for joining me here on the podcast. It sounds like your department certainly supports anyone that has any kind of question that needs any kind of assistance when it comes to financial aid. Certainly, there can be a lot of confusion out there like you referenced earlier, and I know you guys are there to support everyone, whether they're a current student, prospective student parent, whatnot. So once again, really appreciate the time. And thanks so much for joining me here on the podcast.

Amanda Black:
Thank you, Greg. It was a pleasure.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, visit saintleo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's programs and services, call (877) 622-2009 or visit saintleo.edu.

 

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we chat with Amanda Black of the Student Financial Services team at Saint Leo University. The main focus of the discussion is on financial aid for Saint Leo’s WorldWide students enrolled at its education centers or in online degree programs. Black spoke about:

  • The basic requirements Saint Leo WorldWide students must meet to be eligible for financial aid
  • The differences in financial aid for Saint Leo WorldWide undergraduate vs. graduate students
  • FAFSA and why it’s so important
  • How financial aid differs for Saint Leo students in different states
  • Types of internal scholarships and grants Saint Leo University offers to WorldWide students
  • Financial aid benefits available to active-duty, reservist, and veteran students taking courses either online or at one of Saint Leo’s centers
  • How Saint Leo University supports all students with their financial aid needs
  • How current students, prospective students, and parents can contact Student Financial Services

Student Financial Services at Saint Leo University can be reached by phone at (800) 240-7658. Contact the team via email at sfs@saintleo.edu.

(NOTE: Since the recording of this podcast episode, the hours of phone availability for Saint Leo’s Student Financial Advisors have changed slightly. The current hours are now Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. The Student Financial Services office based at University Campus is open for walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.)

Links & Resources

For further information, visit the Saint Leo University Student Financial Services website.

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