Associated Press writers Collin Binkley and Larry Fenn recently reported that “The number of high school seniors applying for U.S. federal college aid plunged in the weeks following the sudden closure of school buildings this spring — a time when students were cut off from school counselors, and families hit with financial setbacks were reconsidering plans for higher education.”
On my local television channel, I recently watched a show in which each graduate of my local high school was featured. These seventeen and eighteen year olds showed such promise as they posed for the camera. Each was unique- unlike in earlier days when there were requirements on clothing. As I noted their scholarships and school activities, I was taken aback by the large numbers whose future plans were to enter the workforce.
I feel certain the materials were gathered for the programming before the coronavirus when unemployment numbers were very low. Now they are high, and some of you high school graduates are now in a quandary as your plans were blown sky high and you are being forced to reconsider.
I am urging students who graduated from high school this year and felt that they had spent too much of their lives in classrooms to reconsider and at least file for FASA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Go ahead and apply as Federal Pell grants do not require repayment, and students are Pell-Grant eligible according to a variety of factors.
Additionally, you can still make decisions about attending community colleges by mid-August- even later as many colleges have two terms fall semester. This means a student can begin attending mid-October.
If you have difficulty completing the FASA, call student services at your area college, and someone will help you with the application.
Loans are another matter, and I you to give serious consideration when taking out loans as I know too many former college students who are carrying heavy loan burdens with interest rates accruing.
State grants are also available. There are many, and some could well be a fit for you. Go to your community college web site and click on the financial aid link.
If you are a person who has no idea what you might study in college, Google TypeFocus and spend the time necessary to learn about your personality, interests, values, and skills and the occupations best suited for you. Then Google Occupation Outlook Handbook to find out more about those jobs: employment outlook, requirements, and responsibilities.
If transportation is a problem, most community colleges have regional campuses, or you might consider carpooling. For example, Edison State has regional campuses in Greenville, Eaton, and Troy in addition to the Piqua Campus.
Colleges have been forced to make adaptation because of the coronavirus, and they are committed to serving you. For example, Edison State Community College is having a Zoom meeting on July 23 at 11 a.m. to inform potential students about offerings at the regional campuses. Just call the college or click on the website to register (http://www.edisonohio.edu/admissions (937) 778-7893.
Cost is always a factor. Check the web sites of colleges you might consider. Ohio residents considering Clark State Community College or Edison State Community College might think tuition at either place is high when compared to Sinclair Community College. Because Sinclair is funded in part by a local tax, Montgomery County residents pay a specified amount, and Ohio students who are not residents of Montgomery County pay that fee plus a surcharge.
Scholarships may be in the future of some who had not planned to attend college but are now reconsidering as colleges seek ways to make college more affordable in these financially trying times. Know that exceptionally high GPAs are not always required. The College Credit Plus program funded by the state is offering some excellent opportunities for Ohio residents. Some opportunities may mean a free — or almost free — college enrolment.
Always know that you can work and attend college as there is flexibility that has not been a part of your high school program.
Have I thrown too much at you? Just clip this column and take your time considering the issues. As you become better informed about the basics, you will be more ready to have those important conversations with college personnel ready to assist you when you make that call. With a college focus on career counseling, you might be directed to a career counselor although you can always indicate that you are undecided as to a major.
Finally, I would urge my readers to donate to the book/tuition scholarships at their local community colleges. At this time, our young people need our help and if you can afford to assist, please consider doing so. The amount need not be large as $50 will buy a book.