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Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 54: Financial Aid for Saint Leo’s Campus Students

Posted by Greg Lindberg on March 2, 2022
Episode 54: Financial Aid for Saint Leo’s Campus Students

Download Episode 54 Transcript

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

Greg Lindberg:
Hi there. And thanks for tuning into another episode of the Saint Leo 360 Podcast. As usual my name is Greg Lindberg. Here on this episode of the podcast we are speaking about financial aid focused on university campus students here at Saint Leo University. And to help us do so I'd like to welcome back to the Saint Leo 360 Podcast, Amanda Black, who is the associate director of communications and financial literacy in the Student Financial services department here at Saint Leo. Amanda, welcome back.

Amanda Black:
Hello. Thanks for having me.

Greg Lindberg:
Definitely. Appreciate you doing this again. And I know the last time we chatted about worldwide students and financial aid related to students attending our education centers and online students. And so really wanted to delve into campus students on this episode here. So first off Amanda, let's just talk about the basic requirements that university campus students must meet in order to be eligible for financial aid.

Amanda Black:
Sure. Well, the basic eligibility requirements are that a student must be enrolled in a qualifying degree program. However, after that the eligibility requirements get a bit more detailed depending on whether the financial aid is based on academic performance, financial need, and who is setting the eligibility requirements. For example, the Department of Educations, state agencies, foundations, and individual donors, all set different eligibility criteria. However, I can give you basic eligibility requirements for most federal and state aid. Those requirements include that a student must demonstrate financial need via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is also called the FAFSA. Students must also be a US citizen or an eligible non citizen, and have a valid social security number. They must be enrolled at least half time and maintain satisfactory academic progress. And also a student must not be in default on a federal student loan or owe money on a federal student grant. And lastly, students must show that they're qualified to obtain a college education by having a high school diploma or a GED certificate. And again, those are the basic eligibility requirements for most federal and state aid.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see. Very interesting. So let's dive into specific types of financial aid available to our campus students. And I know we've got quite a long list here, so we'll kind of plow through this slowly. If you want to just kind of give an intro from a broad standpoint about types of financial aid.

Amanda Black:
Of course. There are many different types of financial aid available to our campus students and these types of aid vary based on the source of the financial aid and the eligibility requirements associated with each type of aid. For instance, as mentioned earlier, there's federal and state financial aid, as well as institutional aid. Meaning the funding comes from Saint Leo. There is also corporate assistance and outside scholarships. These last two types of financial aid come from external organizations or companies. I can tell you a little bit about the federal financial aid first, since we already mentioned that. Federal financial aid is funded by the US government and examples of that include Pell grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, or FSEOG for short. And these grants are need based, and it should be noted that a grant does not have to be repaid nor does a scholarship.

Amanda Black:
And in the same vein, there's also state aid. State aid refers to programs that are limited to state residents. These programs may provide need based and non need based grants and scholarships as well as loan programs for residents that are within the state. And a couple examples of Florida state aid include the Effective Access to Student Education Grant or what we refer to as EASE. There's the Florida Student Assistant Grant, or FSAG, and then there's also Florida Bright Futures. And it should be noted that Georgia also offers grants to residents. All students should investigate the availability of state grant assistance with their home state. The best place to do that is on the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrator's website. The acronym for that website is NASFA and that website can have help direct you to financial aid opportunities available by state.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see. So definitely a lot of options, a lot of opportunities. It sounds like both federally and at the state level.

Amanda Black:
There are, there really are.

Greg Lindberg:
Excellent. So let's move on to university grants and scholarships. So I know that Saint Leo has many specific to the university, many types of financial aid options as well.

Amanda Black:
There are. Saint Leo University offers a variety of grants and scholarships eligible to first time in college students and some eligible to transfer students. These scholarships are based on merit and financial need. For instance, the university offers the Presidential Award to incoming freshmen. The scholarship can be worth up to $14,000 a year and is renewable as long as recipients meet eligibility requirements. Other university scholarships for incoming freshmen on university campus include the Dean's Award, which can be up to $13,000 per year. There's the Excellence Award up to $12,000. And there's also a third award called the University Award. And that can be up to $11,000 for incoming freshmen. There's also the Catholic Promise Award, which can be worth up to $3,000 per year. And the Catholic Promise Award is for US citizen students that graduate from a Catholic high school with a GPA of at least 2.3.

Amanda Black:
And transfer students are also eligible to receive renewable scholarships. For instance, Saint Leo offers the Presidential Transfer Award, which can be worth up to $12,000 a year for transfer students. And then other scholarships include the Dean's Transfer Award, the Excellence Transfer Award, and the University Transfer Award. All of these awards range from $11,000 to $9,000 per year. And then we also have athletic scholarships that are available to incoming freshmen. The athletic scholarships are for undergraduate students at university campus. An athletic scholarship is an award for students who excel at their sport. And the athletic scholarships are renewable as long as the student continues to participate in their sport and meet other eligibility criteria. Award amounts can vary, but they can cover up to a student's full tuition fees, room board, and even books.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow, excellent. And I'm just really blown away by the diversity of financial aid and how many different categories of students that we really do cater to in terms of financial support.

Amanda Black:
In addition to scholarships awarded when students apply and are accepted to Saint Leo, there are privately funded endowed scholarships available. These scholarships are established through the generosity of Saint Leo University, donors who are making a financial contribution to our students' educations. Students apply for these scholarships through the Saint Leo AcademicWorks portal. There are over 170 different scholarships students can apply for. Last year the university awarded over $700,000 in privately funded scholarships to hundreds of students. Some of these scholarships are based on merit, and some are based on both merit and financial need. In order to be eligible for a need based privately funded scholarship, students must have a current FAFSA on file with Saint Leo. And as I had mentioned before, they must apply through the AcademicWorks portal.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see. Let's talk about TEACH Grants. What exactly is a TEACH Grant?

Amanda Black:
A TEACH grant is a federal grant and the TEACH acronym stands for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant. It's a mouthful. So we like to just call it, TEACH for short. This program provides annual grants to students who plan to become teachers. As a condition for receiving a TEACH Grant, students must agree to teach full time in a high need field for at least four years at an elementary school, secondary school, or an educational service agency that serves low income families. The grant recipient must complete the required four years of teaching within eight years of completing their degree. And if a grant recipient does not fulfill this obligation, the TEACH Grant funds received by the former student are converted to a direct unsubsidized loan. And this loan must be repaid by the TEACH Grant recipient with accrued interests.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very interesting. In addition to the many that we've already discussed, I know there are also outside scholarship opportunities as well, correct?

Amanda Black:
Local businesses, foundations, churches, unions, civic organizations, and parents employers often sponsor scholarships that can be used towards educational costs. When searching for these scholarships, we always advise students to be careful who they submit applications to and who they share their personal information with. A legitimate company or service would never guarantee or promise scholarships or grants nor would a legit organization request your checking account, banking information, or credit card number. Students should always be very careful with who they share their social security number with as well. So students are encouraged to visit our Saint Leo University outside scholarship opportunities webpage for more information and links to outside scholarships. There are a lot of scholarships out there and it's worth it to take a look and apply when you need a scholarship or when you come across a scholarship that you're eligible for.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly. Research is so key. And like you were saying it's important to make sure it's legitimate and obviously funding can be tough for a lot of folks out there. So just make sure you're getting into a safe situation. Let's discuss as far as student employment, whether it's federal or non federal work study programs.

Amanda Black:
Sure. The Federal Undergraduate Work-Study Program provides hourly wage part-time jobs for students with financial need. So in order to be awarded a federal work study job, you do need to complete the FAFSA. There's student employment positions funded by federal work study. And then there's also student employment positions that are funded through institutional funds. So if you are not awarded federal work study, there are still job opportunities available on campus that do not require the federal work study award.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, I see. In terms of loans, let's talk about both federal and private loans and the options out there.

Amanda Black:
So federal student loans are funded by the US government and they must be repaid with interest. The two most common federal loans are direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans. Direct subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need, and the US Department of Education pays the interest on a direct subsidized loan while you're in school, at least half time. Direct unsubsidized loans are for both undergraduate and graduate students and are not based on financial need. Because the loan is unsubsidized, interest on the loan is charged while the borrower is in school.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Interesting.

Amanda Black:
And there's also another type of loan and that would be private student loans. These are non federal education loans. They're offered by banks, credit unions, state loan agencies, and other financial institutions. Because private loan rates can be high, eligible students should always complete the FAFSA and exhaust all federal, state, and university aid options before applying for a private loan. If students are interested in looking into private student loans, Saint Leo offers FASTChoice and FASTChoice is not a lender. It is an independent online loan comparison tool. This tool provides loan counseling and basic information about borrowing. It is intended to help students who are interested in learning about private lending options. Students can then apply online for loans directly through the FASTChoice platform. However, students are free of course, to select any lender they choose, including those not presented through FASTChoice.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. So move on to, as far as military students, the financial aid options available to our campus based military connected student.

Amanda Black:
Of course. Saint Leo University offers programs that are approved for military tuition assistance and Veteran Administration education benefits. Eligibility to receive VA education benefits is determined by the Department of Veteran Affairs. 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, obligated service, application processes, and restrictions. Future students should verify their eligibility with their branches, military education office. Saint Leo University does not determine military tuition assistance or VA education benefit eligibility.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, I see. And I know that we obviously for many decades now have prided ourselves on being just, very supportive of the military. And I know you can certainly attest to that in terms of helping military members who are students, ensure that they attain the financial aid that they're eligible for.

Amanda Black:
Yes, Student Financial Services actually has its own sub department called veteran services in which that group of staff handles specifically the military and VA financial aid.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow, that's fantastic. And definitely shows our dedication and our willingness to help. So I do know that university campus, we primarily offer undergraduate degree programs. We do have some MBA and some other graduate students who do come to campus. And let's just talk about the differences between financial aid for campus undergrad versus graduate students.

Amanda Black:
While there are some differences in the types and amounts of financial aid available, it is still crucial that regardless of whether a student is an undergraduate program, I'm sorry, whether a student is in an undergraduate program or a graduate program, they should complete a FAFSA. At the undergraduate level, a lot of financial aid is need based and primary based on the students and the students parents income. However, at the graduate level, income plays a much smaller role in what you may be eligible for.

Amanda Black:
At the graduate level, eligible students may have the ability to fund their education through both federal direct unsubsidized loans and federal graduate plus loans. Graduate plus loans allow one to borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. Unlike direct unsubsidized loans, graduate plus loans require evidence that you don't have an adverse credit history. In fact, it's possible to pay for graduate school in its entirety by exclusively taking out federal loans, assuming you qualify. Private loans may also be available to qualifying borrowers. In addition to loans, Saint Leo offers private funded scholarships to graduate students. Of course, graduate students must apply for these every year by completing and submitting applications in academic works.

Greg Lindberg:
Oh, I see. And I know it's so important to stress that there are many financial aid options out there for graduate students. I think there's kind of that stereotype that if you're an undergrad that there's so much more out there available, but there definitely are a lot of opportunities and options for grad students as well.

Amanda Black:
There truly are.

Greg Lindberg:
So let's dive into exactly what financial aid covers. Again, there are a lot of stereotypes. Is it just tuition? Are there a lot of things beyond tuition that it can cover? Let's talk about that.

Amanda Black:
Yes. Good question. Federal, state, and institutional financial aid can be used to cover the cost of a student's tuition and fees as well as room and board, if you're staying on campus. Federal and state financial aid, as well as educational loans can also be used to help pay for your housing expenses, if you're living off campus. These types of financial aid can be used towards covering the cost of your rent, or if you own your own home, it can go towards your mortgage payments. It should be noted that institutional aid like Saint Leo scholarships and grants cannot be used towards non-campus housing costs. Students can also use financial aid for other items necessary for earning a degree. This includes books and supplies, including the Course Materials Connection program at Saint Leo. With the Course Materials Connection program, all required course materials will be included as a course charge and bundled together for students for the first day of class.

Amanda Black:
The cost of all course materials is a flat fee of $26 per credit hour. A few other items that fall into the supplies category include lab equipment and even a computer. And if you need help paying for transportation to and from classes, federal financial aid can be used for this as well. For instance, if you plan to use a bus or some other form of public transportation to get to, and from campus, financial aid dollars can help pay for your tickets or passes. Another hand if you own your own vehicle and will be using it financial aid can help with its maintenance expenses and gases.

Amanda Black:
Depending on the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive, you may have enough leftover to help pay for some personal expenses as well. These include groceries to eat, childcare for when you are attending classes and studying, clothing and other necessities. However, one expense that financial aid does not pay for is club fees. So if you are planning to join a sorority, fraternity, or other school based club or organization, the costs associated with this will need to come from a funding source that is not financial aid.

Greg Lindberg:
Excellent. I appreciate all that clarification. And honestly, I just learned a lot myself from that answer. There really so many things that financial aid does cover. I think a lot of people don't realize.

Amanda Black:
It's true.

Greg Lindberg:
So in terms of the Student Financial Services department, just talk to me in general terms about how your department and Saint Leo as a university in general support students with their financial aid needs.

Amanda Black:
Sure. The Student Financial Services office at Saint Leo exists to support every student and prospective student. It's our goal to help students access and use all possible financial aid resources available to them. We support all students attending Saint Leo and aim to assist with reviewing their individual situations, offering students advice, and informing students of the financial aid options available to them.

Greg Lindberg:
And then to conclude our conversation here, if you just want to provide the contact info and how, whether its current students or prospective students can contact Student Financial Services.

Amanda Black:
Students with questions about financial aid or their student account should call Student Financial Services toll free. Our phone number is (800) 240-7658. And we have student financial advisors that are available to help our callers. We are on the queue and ready to take calls, 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM, Monday through Friday. And on Fridays, we are available until 5:30 PM. Our student financial advisors can assist students and parents with many things, including FAFSA questions, financial aid eligibility, how to access and complete required financial aid forms, student account payments, and questions about account balances. And students are also welcome to email questions at sfs@saintleo.edu. For university campus students, they are well welcome to visit the Student Financial Support Center in person. The Student Financial Support Center is located in Saint Edward Hall. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and walk-ins are always welcome. The Student Financial Support Center, assists students and parents with many financial services.

Amanda Black:
Some of these include advising students on their financial aid, issuing school photo IDs, clarifying charges on student accounts and accepting payments, selling commuter student meal plans, assisting students with student health insurance, answering questions about student refunds and using bank mobile, and troubleshooting payment plans. We are there to serve the students, and we certainly encourage students to come by and reach out to us if they need assistance. For convenience, the Student Financial Support Center has a booking page on our website to make appointments online. And students can go to our online booking page, select the type of appointment they need and select a date and time that works best for them. Users even have the option to select if they would like the appointment to take place in person, over Zoom, or by phone. And as I mentioned before, students are of course, welcome to drop by. They can also email or call us in the Student Support Center.

Greg Lindberg:
Fantastic. So many different ways to get in touch with you guys it sounds like.

Amanda Black:
There really are. We try to make ourselves available for students who have questions or need help.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. That's wonderful. All right. Well, again, our guest has been Amanda Black here on this episode of the Saint Leo 360 Podcast. And Amanda, I just want to thank you so much for your time and thank you for everything that your team does. I know, as we talked about previously, financial aid is such an important topic to so many students out there and those considering college, and so really appreciate everything that you guys do. And thanks again for joining us here on the podcast.

Amanda Black:
Thank you, Greg. We're very happy to get this information out. So thank you for helping us share it.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely.

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 bring back Amanda Black, the associate director of communications and financial literacy in the Student Financial Services department at Saint Leo University. Black discussed:

  • The basic requirements Saint Leo campus students must meet to be eligible for financial aid
  • The various categories of financial aid for students who attend University Campus
  • Financial aid benefits available to military-connected students attending University Campus
  • The differences between financial aid for Saint Leo campus undergraduate vs. graduate students
  • How Saint Leo’s Student Financial Services team supports all students with their financial aid questions and needs
  • The contact info for Student Financial Services and the various ways current and prospective students can get support

Links & Resources

Contact the Student Financial Services Department at Saint Leo University

The Student Financial Services team can be reached at (800) 240-7658. Student Financial Advisors are available by phone Monday through Thursday from 8:30 am to 6:30 p.m. ET and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

Students may also email questions to sfs@saintleo.edu.

University Campus students are welcome to visit the Student Financial Support Center in person in Saint Edward Hall. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For further information visit the Student Financial Services website.

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