Tag Archives: Office of Financial Aid and Veteran Services

Why Go On A College Visit? Four Reasons

What’s so valuable about actually visiting Parkland College before you consider attending the school? Here are four good reasons:

  1. You can really visit the campus. Let’s be honest: the pictures you see in brochures are not always an accurate representation of what every part of a campus looks like.  Attending a campus visit allows you to see every part of campus, from the classrooms, to the cafeteria, to the library, and even parking.  You can see for yourself where students like to spend their time between classes, where the computer labs are located, or what clubs you can join.  You will learn so much more than you ever could from a college brochure.
  1. You can get your specific questions answered. What about this particular major?  What’s my financial aid status?  What tutoring opportunities are on campus for me?  Trust us, we have been asked some very interesting questions during campus visits!  Come armed with your list of questions, and we will make sure to answered them before you leave.
  1. You can talk with current students about their experiences. Learn what students like to get involved in, their favorite places to eat in the area, or what some of their favorite electives are.  Talking to Parkland College students is a great way to get honest feedback about the institution.
  1. You can see what campus is like on a regular day. Sure visiting the campus over the summer might be easier since you are on summer break, but the campus has considerably fewer students around then.  This might give you a false sense of what to expect campus life to be like.  Attending a campus visit day allows you to truly see how many students are on campus, how the parking can be, and even how long it might take you to get from one class to another.

Ready to come out for a Campus Visit Day?  RSVP here.

[Sarah Hartman is an admissions advisor for Parkland College.]

Top 5 Things to Do at Campus Visit Day

Seniors, still undecided on where to attend?  Juniors, wanting to get a head start on your college planning?  Here are the top 5 things to do while attending Parkland’s Campus Visit Day on September 23 or October 10.

Top 5 Things to Do While Attending Parkland’s Campus Visit Day

  1. Speak to students who are currently attending Parkland. Get an idea of campus life, student clubs and organizations, and much more! Do your parents have questions about safety?  Do you wonder where the best place is to live or just where to get the best cup of coffee? Ask our students! You will really get the inside scoop from students who made the decision to attend this amazing campus. Get an idea of why Parkland was the best choice for them.
  1. Worried about the price of college? Find out how much it is going to cost you to attend Parkland as well as residency information and learn how to finance college through scholarships, grants, and loans.  This will save you from any surprises down the road!
  1. Tour campus! Campus tours generally give you much more info than you could see if you walked a campus on your own.  Not only will you see classrooms, cafeterias, bookstore, labs, art gallery, and much more, you also learn about services on campus for you to utilize and fun facts you may have never known!
  1. Meet one on one with an Admissions advisor to get all of your specific questions answered! We know that you and your parents have many questions, and we are here to answer them and make you feel as comfortable as possible.
  1. Apply to be a student! Get a step ahead of your peers and fill out an application while on campus. That way, if you have any questions while filling out the application, the pros will be right there to answer your questions! Visit our Application Station and complete an application onsite!

Ready to visit?  RSVP here: http://www2.parkland.edu/forms/admissionsRSVP/campusvisit.html.

[Sarah Hartman is an admissions advisor for Parkland College.]

Fall Means…FAFSA!

A change is in the air! It’s time for falling leaves, new school supplies, pumpkin spice lattes, and… FAFSA?

That’s right! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is changing this year. Now you no longer have to wait until January 1 to complete next year’s application (sorry if I’ve ruined your New Year’s Day plans)! Starting October 1, you will be able to complete your FAFSA application for next school year (that’s fall 2017–spring 2018).

And not only can you now do the FAFSA sooner, but it should be easier to do as well.

In the past, the FAFSA has required information about your income from the previous tax year. For example, if you complete the FAFSA for the current school year (fall 2016–spring 2017) you would have needed your income and tax information from 2015. The new FAFSA will require tax information from two years prior. So when you fill out your 2017-2018 FAFSA (on October 1, of course) you will use your income and tax information from two years ago… as it happens, from 2015. The 2017-2018 FAFSA is the only FAFSA that will use the same income information as the prior year’s FAFSA.

Why is this so great? Because hopefully by now, especially if you have already done a 2016-2017 FAFSA, you already have all the 2015 income and tax information you need to complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA. In the past, the new FAFSA became available on January 1, but most applicants weren’t able to finalize the process until they completed their tax returns, generally at least a month or two later. So not only can you start the FAFSA earlier, but you will be much more likely to have all the information needed to complete it in much less time than previously.

Parkland’s Office of Financial Aid and Veteran Services would like to encourage all students to fill out the FAFSAs as early as possible. There are a number of great reasons to do so:

  1. Getting your paperwork done early means you’re in less of a rush to complete everything when school is starting and deadlines are looming. Save yourself the stress!
  2. Get a head start on finding out what you qualify for. When you complete a FAFSA, the application provides an estimate of what types and amounts of awards you may be eligible to receive. This can help you plan in advance how to afford college.
  3. Filling out a FAFSA early may qualify you for more financial aid funds. Some financial aid programs, such as Federal Work Study and the Illinois MAP grant, can only be awarded to a portion of the students who are eligible. The students who submit their FAFSAs to Parkland the earliest are more likely to receive these awards.

So take a break from enjoying the changing weather and the thrill of a new semester, and set a reminder to complete your FAFSA on (or as close as possible to) October 1.

Complete the FAFSA online here: https://fafsa.ed.gov/

Questions? Contact Parkland’s Office of Financial Aid and Veteran Services at 217/351-2222 or visit our webpage.
[Julia Hawthorne is an advisor with Financial Aid and Veteran Services at Parkland College.]

Campus Visit Day: There’s Still Time to Sign Up!

Some high school students find that sitting down and speaking with a college admissions advisor well before College Day One makes them better prepared to navigate the college experience. Touring the college’s campus doesn’t hurt, either.

This Monday, Parkland College will hold sessions that allow area students to see if this community college is a good fit for them.

Our first spring Campus Visit Day of 2016 will include the aforementioned opportunities and more:

  • an overview of how to apply to Parkland, sign up for financial aid, and select among its many academic programs
  • opportunity to learn more about Parkland’s Health Professions and the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program
  • a guided tour of campus
  • ability to apply on the spot for the summer and fall 2016 semesters at our Application Station
  • opportunity to speak one-on-one with admissions counselors to answer other questions.

Campus Visit Day events will begin at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.

Parkland schedules two Campus Visit Days each spring; the second will occur April 1.

You can still reserve a visit for Monday’s Campus Visit Day! Just go to www.parkland.edu/getStarted/visit or email admissions@parkland.edu. For more information, call Parkland College Admissions at 217/351-2509.

[Sarah Hartman is an admissions advisor for Parkland College.]

New Year, New FAFSA to Complete!

That’s right, the 2016-2017 FAFSA is now available! For those attending college during the 2016-2017 award year, be sure to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.

Complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The application is quick and easy to complete. Make sure you complete the 2016- 2017 FAFSA and not the 2015-2016 form if you are applying for financial aid for next year (Fall 2016, Spring 2017, and Summer 2017).

Plus, check out this US Dept. of Education blog post to avoid common FAFSA mistakes before you file!

For more information about the financial aid process, please email our office at finaid@parkland.edu or visit the SALT website at www.saltmoney.org.  SALT also provides helpful information and resources for searching for scholarships to supplement your financial aid award.

What Is SALT?
SALT is a website created by American Student Assistance® (ASA), a nonprofit organization, to help Parkland College students like you become more financially savvy. This program rewards you for making smart money decisions, and we’re providing all of its services to you—including your membership—as a gift, free of charge. Create your SALT account at www.saltmoney.org/parklandcollege today!

**Top image from “7 Common FAFSA Mistakes” at http://blog.ed.gov/2014/01/7-common-fafsa-mistakes/**

[Dawn Good is a financial aid advisor in Parkland’s Financial Aid and Veteran Services office.]

Worried about losing your MAP Grant? Apply now for scholarships!

Have you heard? Your financial aid this spring may be less than you expect.

The Illinois Assistance Commission (ISAC), which administers the Monetary Award Program (MAP), has notified all Illinois colleges and universities that due to the uncertainty of the state budget, spring 2016 MAP awards will be delayed until the state budget is approved. This means that your spring 2016 MAP award will be changed to “estimated aid” at this time and will not be applied to any account balance you may incur while registering for spring classes. As a result, your financial aid refund may be less than anticipated.

If state budget does fund MAP awards and you are owed more in a refund, you will receive it after the state budget is approved. Should the state not include MAP awards in the budget, you will be responsible for any balance owed on your account.

The idea of having your financial aid reduced is a pretty stressful one. What can you do? One potential way to offset this possible reduction is to apply for scholarships. Even if you don’t receive the MAP award, applying for scholarships is always a great resource to help fund your education.

NOW is the time to apply for spring scholarships. The Parkland College Foundation is currently offering approximately 70 scholarships for the spring semester. November 15 is the deadline for a majority of these scholarships, but scholarships are posted throughout the academic year.  The funds are there … just waiting for the right student to apply.

Parkland students have access to the scholarship search feature in their student portal at my.parkland.edu. By logging in to the portal and selecting “Scholarship Search” under the Student Services tab, you will be directed to a listing of all scholarships that are currently available. By selecting “eligible scholarships” from the drop down menu, you will also find a list that is more customized based on available scholarship criteria. The search feature is an excellent resource to find scholarships funded by the Parkland College Foundation. In addition, any scholarship information provided by external organizations is posted as well.

Most scholarship applications require you to write an essay … don’t be intimidated! The Center for Academic Success at Parkland offers a Writing Lab in D120 that is open and available to all students. You can receive free help from English instructors with any writing project you might have. For more information you can visit D120 or log in to the student portal, my.parkland.edu.

There are also many reputable online resources for scholarships as well such as Fastweb (http://www.fastweb.com/), CollegeBoard (http://www.collegeboard.org/), and the Federal Student Aid Gateway (http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/). Keep in mind, that most reputable scholarship organizations do not ask you to pay a fee to apply.

[Tim Wendt is Parkland’s director of enrollment services.]

Semester Countdown: 6 Tips to Prepare for Fall

Only six weeks remain until Parkland College’s Fall Semester 2015 begins.  Here are six tips to make the most of the time remaining. After all, just a little preparation can yield big dividends, such as a smoother transition into a new round of lectures, labs, and learning experiences!

  1. Register for classes; don’t wait. Walk-in hours are available at the Counseling and Advising Center. Mondays and Wednesdays are generally the best days for continuing students.
  2. Check on your financial aid or any other grants and scholarships you may be expecting to pay for your classes.
  3. Pay for classes online by August 4 or risk losing your schedule!
  4. Fall books will be available in the Bookstore August 10, so make sure you get what you need before the first day of class.
  5. Find your classes and the best places to park. Even if you have attended Parkland in the past, be sure to know where you’re going on that first day.
  6. Check out the Fall Convocation in the Student Union on Thursday, August 27, at noon. You’ll enjoy free food, a chance to win an iPad, and lots of information on Parkland student clubs and organizations.

[Tim Wendt is Parkland’s director of Enrollment Services.]

Veterans: Discover Your ‘Voice’ at New Book Group

I read a New York Times article last year by Iraq War veteran Phil Klay, winner of the National Book Award and one of the authors we will read from during the new Veterans Book Group, coming next week to Parkland College. A paragraph from Klay’s article speaks to the crux of this project:

“If we fetishize trauma as incommunicable, then survivors are trapped—unable to feel truly known by their nonmilitary friends and family. At a recent Veterans Day performance put on by Arts in the Armed Forces, Adam Driver, the organization’s founder, a former Marine turned actor, spoke of his feelings of alienation after leaving the corps. ‘Not being able to express the anger, confusion and loneliness I felt was challenging,’ he said, until theater exposed him ‘to playwrights and characters and plays that had nothing to do with the military, that were articulating experiences I had in the military, that before to me were indescribable.'”

Klay goes on to state, “It’s a powerful moment, when you discover a vocabulary exists for something you’d thought incommunicably unique.” We believe this is what literature can do, and it’s what we hope to provide book group participants: a safe place to read about others’ experiences about war and discuss their own.

John Fundator and I will serve as co-facilitators for the group.  A senior communications specialist with the University of Illinois Foundation, John served in the U.S. Army (1977–1981) and the Illinois Army National Guard (1981–1998).  He was a weekend soldier in the Guard when he was called up for a yearlong deployment during the Bosnia conflict of the early 1990s. John was part of a public affairs unit and wrote about the conflict for that year.

John had a wife (me!) and three small children (6-year-old twins and a one-year old) at home during that time. This gives us some understanding of the difficulty of separation many vets and their families feel. My position as full-time professor of humanities at Parkland will bring a literary background to the book discussions that we hope vets will also find useful.

No matter your age or military experience, as a veteran, you are welcome to take part in this free book group! We’ll read works from various eras, ranging from Stephen Crane’s Civil War-era short story, The Veteran, to Ernest Hemingway’s Soldier’s Home, a narrative of one young World War I veteran’s return to civilian life. We’ll even read recently published selections by Klay, whose writing reflects the wartime and post-war experiences of contemporary combat veterans.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has generously provided funding for this book group in conjunction with its initiative, Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War. The initiative aims to promote understanding of the military experience and to support returning veterans.

We invite you to become part of the Veteran’s Book Group at Parkland by contacting the Illinois Humanities Council’s Matt Meacham at mwm@prairie.org or 312/422-5589.

****

“Standing Together: A Veterans Book Group”
January 27, February 10, February 24, and March 10
5:30 to 7 p.m.
Parkland College Student Union, Room U230
Hosted by the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC), Parkland College, and Crosspoint Human Services

Veterans: Quick Tips on Using Your Benefits

 

Fresh from military duty and looking to begin (or finish) your degree for a new career? You can find lots of help to do just that at Parkland College, through the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Services.

Kristina Taylor, veterans coordinator in the financial aid office, has a few tips for you on how to make the most of the GI Bill and other veterans benefits you have earned. Just click on the image above to begin the video.

Parkland College thanks you for honorably serving our country.

File Your FAFSA NOW for a Happier New Year!


Parkland Students: It’s TIME to fill out the
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit it as soon as possible!  Waiting can keep you from getting the State of Illinois MAP Grant, Federal SEOG Grant, and/or Federal Work-Study that you might be eligible for—which run out earlier and earlier each year!

It is definitely worth your time to complete the FAFSA. Most students qualify for some form of aid, and even those who don’t qualify for grants still often borrow federal loans (but only after they’ve filled out the FAFSA!).

Need help filling out your FAFSA online (www.fafsa.gov)? Stop by the Office of Financial Aid and Veteran Services (Room U286) with your tax return copies, your FAFSA PIN (if you have one already), and any other required paperwork.

Also, visit our website for more information on financial aid deadlines at Parkland.