Monday, September 30, 2013

What Are You Doing Here?

What would make someone leave his or her home, make a difficult journey, and start all over again in a strange land where he knows no one, has nothing, doesn't know where to go, and doesn't speak the same language?

I know of a man named John who felt that he would be better off moving to America from a country about 4300 miles away. Even though he had apprenticed at a craft-he was a tailor-and knew something about farming, there were not many jobs in his area, and he felt like he had nothing to lose. At age 22, he boarded a ship and came, alone, to the U.S.

I'm not sure how he could afford the ticket; it was very expensive to make the journey. Some people even came on a cargo ship to save money, and in some cases families came one person at a time. That person would get a job and send money home so the next person could join him.

Traveling to the U.S. wasn't much fun. You were likely stuck in the lowest part of the ship...with little ventilation, limited toilets and washing facilities, possibly having to provide your own food, and you get to share your space with a few hundred strangers...
....for six weeks or more. Sign me up, right? 

                                             Super-crowded ship of hopeful immigrants

Once these folks got to America, they took up many jobs that others didn't want, because they needed the money. The pay wasn't great, but it was better than nothing; they worked long hours at physically demanding jobs, such as building roads, as farmhands, working in factories, clearing forests, and also as servants to the wealthy.

Sound familiar?

John was my great-grandfather, and he arrived in May 1854.

You see, there's really not much difference between someone who arrived here about 160 years ago and someone who arrived in 2013.

When you look around you and see someone who looks 'different,' do you wonder how that person came to be an American? Or do you just assume you have nothing in common?

Do you think: What are you doing here?

The recurring reasons are:

Political oppression: Other countries deciding they own their neighbors, for example.

Corruption of leaders/government

Land unsuitable for farming

Not enough land

Poverty: when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

Genocide: People within the same country killing each other

Anti-Semitism: As an example, in the 1800s, Russia drove out as many Jewish people as possible; they also would force them to serve in the military for tours of up to 15 years-this was incentive enough for some people to flee to other countries in Europe as well as to the U.S. In the 1930s, Hitler began his campaign of trying to create a perfect race by eliminating Jews and others he thought were undesirable.

Famine: The Potato Famine in the 1850s is a prime example. Potatoes were a major crop in Europe, especially in Ireland. The soil was ideal for growing them, and potatoes were grown and exported to other countries. A form of fungus or disease somehow invaded the crop and spread, making all of them inedible. Thousands of people were starving, not only in Ireland but in other European countries, and even though the British had food supplies stocked up, they would not share with the Irish---another form of genocide.  The 'potato famine' lasted well over 10 years. The Irish had few other choices but to move to the U.S. and Canada.

Religious Oppression: The freedom to practice whatever religion you chose was not an option for some countries, and still is not. Often, the rulers of a country decreed what religion the country was 'supposed' to be and placed taxes on everyone to support that one church.

What is it that the U.S. offers that other countries don't? The most prominent reasons people left their home countries and came here are summed up in the first article of the Bill of Rights: Freedom of Speech, the Press, and Religion:

  • Freedom of the Press: We have the freedom to publish and to read whatever we choose, in many types of media such as newspapers, books, and online, as long as it doesn't infringe on someone else's freedom, that is, libel or spreading malicious information about someone is not permitted; obscene materials are at least restricted if not banned; and any publication that would incite rioting or treason, for example, would be illegal. It is also illegal to publish any form of government information that might risk our national security.
  • Freedom of Religion:  We are free to practice any religion we choose with no persecution.
  • Freedom of Assembly: We can meet with anyone for any reason, as long as it is peaceful. It brings with it the right to criticize our leaders and to hold a demonstration when we disagree with them.
  • Freedom of Speech: We are free to express our opinions, including criticism of our government, without fear of retribution, as long as it is not done to incite violence.
Tianamen Square, 1989: What was happening here?
We enjoy the freedom to travel wherever we want without anyone stopping us and demanding an explanation. In theory, we also  have the right to decent medical care, basic education, and a safe place to live. Most of us can't imagine living somewhere that doesn't at least offer those basics.

The U.S. gives women rights they may not have in another country.

We value education. We have public schools for grades Kindergarten through 12th, and opportunities for people of every income level to go to college. In some countries, if you can't pay for your schooling--from early childhood on--then you aren't going to go to school.

With instruction, newcomers to the U.S. can become citizens of our country, giving them all the rights and protections of everyone else, including the right to vote.

With the exception of those African-Americans brought here as slaves, as well as Native Americans who were already here when the first settlers came from England, people who make up our country are those who came by choice from somewhere else in the world.

What is the story of your family and how it came to America?

If you aren't aware of your family's history, take some time and ask a parent or grandparent about it.

  • Why did your family leave its homeland?
  • Can you find the town they lived in, on a map?
  • When did your family first arrive in the U.S.?
  • What language did they speak? Can you speak it? Can you write it?
  •  How did they get here?
  • Where did they live at first?
  • How did they make it work?
  • What does your name mean (first and last)? Were you named for someone?
  • What are naming traditions in your home country (such as, in Scandinavian countries, Johan's son is Eric Johanson or Johansen, and his daughter is Christine Johansdatter)?
  • What is your family's story?

Remember, their story is your story.

Keep a journal of what you learn, either by writing or by recording your discussions. Some time in the future, you can revisit this valuable information so you can discover more.

Ask a friend of yours what his or her story is, and tell him yours. Ask each other questions about it: do you dress differently from each other? Why? Do you eat different foods? What are your parents like? Do you have any traditions in your family? See what you have in common. If you're not careful, you might learn something.

           *We live life forwards, but understand it backwards.*
          Every time an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.
                                            -old African Proverb

Here are stories of several groups who have immigrated to Minnesota, including Hmong, Asian Indian, Latino, and Somali people:

Check out these interesting family histories:

A new series will begin in October: Many Rivers to Cross, about African-Americans and their stories:

For individual stories of immigrants:

Flag of Faces, Ellis Island
*Do you have family that came to America many years ago? Check out these other resources:
-not all immigrants passed through Ellis Island, but many thousands did-  (LDS site-search the records)  (Minnesota History)
*Try an online search for your family name, using Bing or Google. Be specific and use a grandparent's full name; even 'unusual' last names are more common than you'd think-
 *Some families have Facebook pages that include family history: See if your family is one of them, and you may connect with relatives you haven't contacted for a long time, or meet new ones.
This blog addresses immigrant experiences. To learn more about Native Americans, try these sites:


Monday, September 23, 2013

You're So In! Careers in Fashion

You're constantly sketching clothes. You always notice how color affects the mood of a room. You can't stand the perpetually frumpy, and you've predicted about a dozen trends before anyone else has.

PLEASE help this woman.....

Why not help the fashion-impaired and share your sense of style?

Degrees that have to do with fashion include:

Fashion Merchandising (how to sell fashions to the public)
Apparel Design
Marketing (Advertising)
Business Administration
Textile Science and Engineering
Fashion Design


There is a wide variety of different ways to work in the clothing and fashion industry:

Visual Merchandising (displaying the clothing so as to tempt people into buying)
Pattern Making
Buyer (you decide which clothes the store will buy for selling to the public)
Computer Aided Design
Entrepreneurship (having your own line of clothing and/or shop)

As well as
Fashion Writing
Graphic Design
Illustrating fashion for magazines or pattern makers for home sewing, such as Vogue, McCalls, Kwik-Sew, etc.
Accessories-gloves, scarves, small leather goods
Clothes Historian
Children's Fashions

Pretty sure these are going to be "in" again soon. Although I wasn't aware that you wore a suit with a skirt for archery.

Princess Diana's Wedding Dress
Evening Gowns, Wedding Dresses, Swimsuits  


   Men's Fashions

Personal Stylists
Fashion Photography
Fashion Forecast

And can also expand to include working with the entertainment industry:

Set Design
Technical Advisor (making sure the costumes are appropriate to the time the film occurs)

                                                      costumes for the film "Les Miserables"

You might be fascinated by the history of fashion and become an expert on fashions of different eras. What influences fashion? For instance, in the 1890s, womens' dresses were full and floor length, with long sleeves, no matter what the temperature was outside; most clothing was in a dark color because bright colored dyes weren't developed until later on. This was considered proper 'ladylike' attire. In the 1920s, short dresses and short hair were chic. In the 1940s, there were shortages of everything; women's dresses were not as full as before, so as to use less fabric, and nylon or silk stockings were in short supply (silk and nylon were being used to make parachutes). A fashion historian is crucial in what is called 'period' entertainment (stage shows, opera, ballet, musicals, etc. taking place in a particular period).

Wait, her neck and waist are the same measurement???

Because jobs are not that easy to find in the fashion industry, you may be ahead of the game to 'specialize,' that is, find what is it that you like the best; if you can become expert in one area, you can become a sought-after designer or advisor.

There is a need for specialized clothing for people with disabilities or physical limitations. Could you design a fashionable garment that allows for someone who has difficulty dressing herself or himself? How about something that would fit over a leg brace or a cast on an arm?

Be sure to learn how to sew--this gives you an understanding of how clothing is made, as well as the qualities of different fabrics. Take advantage of sewing classes if they are offered in middle or high school, or find a sewing machine and ask someone you know to teach you how, and you can make clothes for yourself or others---great experience for anyone interested in fashion. Sewing lessons can also be found at fabric stores or through Community Education. You'll start with something simple and work your way up to clothing and other items.

You'll also need to be expert in communicating, able to work with deadlines, and excited by constant change in your field.

Another discussion: Who actually looks like this? Could you design for an average size person instead of a toothpick?

Check out these designers to get an idea of how to make fashion your career:

Costume Design:

These schools offer degrees in fashion:
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities:
and check this out, about having a minor in apparel:

Stout University in Wisconsin also offers Fashion degrees:

What can you fashion into a career?

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Is Trio?-Share!

What do you say when someone asks you: "Trio? What's that?"

Most people have never heard of TRIO Programs, and if they have, it's usually through others.

Briefly, TRIO's mission is to assist first-generation students (neither parent completed a 4 year degree) to prepare for college, and then achieve a degree successfully through personalized advising and other enriching educational experiences. Because it is federally funded with tax money, there is no additional fee to participate in TRIO.

Did you know that....

TRIO originated in 1964 during Lyndon Johnson's presidency. The program originally included three parts, hence the name TRIO.

For a history, go to:

Over the years, TRIO Programs developed a total of 8 parts altogether. The name 'TRIO' was never changed to reflect it and the letters do not stand for anything.

These programs include:

          * Upward Bound -   for high school students. Advisors go to high schools  and provide advising and tutoring twice a week after school, plus Saturday sessions.
                                                                     Upward Bound Students

        * Upward Bound Talent Search - for middle school students to guide them towards college  (the name does not mean it is for acting or singing or other arts, necessarily)

           * Student Support Services - for college students, based at their college, providing individualized advising, assistance choosing a major, campus visits to 4 year transfer colleges and transfer course planning, financial aid navigation, and workshops for further assistance in specific areas.
                                                               SSS Students
 * McNair Scholarship - for graduate students - named for astronaut Ronald McNair for his high level of achievement (learn more here:

           * Upward Bound (Math/Science) - this program has a concentration on math and science

          * Upward Bound (Veterans)  - for military veterans to help them succeed in college

                                                                  Not Trio Programs

                                                                  Not Trio Programs

                                                                Not Trio Programs
  • Students in Upward Bound and SSS are good students striving to be better students, those who have solid goals and potential for being successful. Without these qualities, a student would not be accepted into the program. 

  • Some people think that Upward Bound is only for minorities. That is not true.

  • Upward Bound students meet with their advisors and tutors after school twice a week, plus one or more Saturdays each month. Advising includes ACT prep, financial aid education, cultural and life lesson experiences, college campus visits, assistance with the FAFSA, and other educational activities. Students also attend a summer program on the college campus. During the summer program, Upward Bound is required to offer: Math, Science, English, and a foreign language. There is usually an end-of-summer trip to let students experience a new place.

  • Upward Bound advisors have their offices at the college that 'sponsors' their program, not at their high schools. They are in their offices most days until it's time for them to travel to their high schools to have tutoring and advising sessions.
  • There is no age limit for students to take part in Student Support Services while they are in college. As long as you are someone motivated to be successful, and need some extra help to reach your goals, and meet one of our qualifiers, you can participate.

  • Here are the qualifiers for Student Support Services: First generation (neither parent achieved a Bachelors Degree); Modest Income; and for SSS, a Physical or Learning Disability/documented. Note that while a disability is one qualifier, our advisors are not trained in dealing with any disabilities. We will work with other resources that may be helpful in regards to students with a disability.

  • We do not provide money for students to attend college (such as scholarships). Occasionally, our Student Support Services program is able to offer a tuition-free, for-credit class. The greatest value of the program lies in the one-on-one, personalized advising we offer---for free---to our students.

  • TRIO programs are funded with grants from the United States Department of Education. This means each program has to 'ask permission to get the grant again' on a four or five year cycle.

  • Many TRIO advisors were also first-generation students and understand well the hard work involved to achieve college completion.

  • Because our funding comes from the Federal Government, we are not allowed to advertise in any way.

  • When the Federal Government prepares its budget, as part of the Department of Education, we frequently experience budget cuts. If the Dept of Ed budget is cut by 10%, for instance, our programs are all cut by 10%. However, we are still expected to meet the goals of our grants, only with 10% less money.

  •  If a program is not performing to the goals set by its grant, it will be de-funded. A prime example: Funding for the University of Minnesota's TRIO program was cut when they did not meet their goals.

  • We are not allowed to use work time or work funds to contact our senators and congressmen for support.

  • Since its beginning, more than 2 million students have participated in TRIO programs nationwide.

Achieving a college degree is a great thing, and most people don't become famous. However, TRIO Programs have served the occasional celebrity:

Actress Angela Bassett
Music Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis      
ABC Journalist John Quinones
Astronaut Bernard Harris

What can you do to be sure that TRIO services continue to be available for you and for others who come after you?

We saw potential in you and felt you would benefit from the one-on-one advising and other services we offer. Be sure you are fulfilling your part by being a true participant:

-Students in Upward Bound: Keep your commitment to attend tutoring and Saturday sessions.
-Students in SSS: Make appointments and keep them.
-When you have an appointment, your advisor has set aside time for you, and has reviewed your file to be ready. If you cannot make the appointment, give us a call and let us know.
-Make more than your minimum appointments, in order to stay connected.
-Let your advisor know how things are going. Don't wait until you are in a crisis.
-Ask your advisor college-related questions. If you ask a friend, you may get the wrong answer.
-Speak with instructors when you have a class-related question.
-Tell others about the program.
-Remember that we truly want to see you succeed.

                We are your biggest cheerleaders. It's What We Do.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Interview with a Financial Aid Rep-20 Questions Answered!!

Today we welcome our guest, Financial Aid guru and former TRIO SSS Advisor Shannon:

1.       What is the most frequent question/problem you see on a day to day basis?


a.       Students who don’t realize that dropping a course or withdrawing from a course affects their financial aid. NEVER do anything to your schedule without first checking with your TRiO advisor, and then together, going to financial aid. Too many students end up owing part of their aid BACK to the college because they didn’t know that, federally, there are times were when someone withdraws or drops, we have to adjust the aid you’re getting, and then give part of it back to the government. This could create a balance owed for you, and if you can’t pay it, you have an unpaid balance, and can’t register for the next term.

b.      Withdrawing from a course could also put you on warning or suspension. So again, before you do anything TALK TO YOUR TRIO ADVISOR. I cannot stress that enough. They get paid to help you make good decisions, so let them help you!


2.       What would be three key pieces of advice for students and parents about financial aid?


a.       Know your business: Your life is exactly that: YOUR LIFE. Don’t assume everything will work itself, because many times, there is a hang up you didn’t realize was there, and it could (and many times does) affect your ability to get aid. Be aware of your own aid package, and check your Anoka-Ramsey email, because if the Financial Aid Office needs stuff from you, that’s where they’re going to email it.

b.      Check in with your FA office at least once a year: Even if’s just to stop by and say “hi, just checking I’m all good, and nothing is missing”. Financial aid is ALWAYS changing, so unless you work for that office, don’t ever assume you know what’s going on.

c.       Be nice to the people at the window: I’ve had my fair share of cranky financial aid people, so I know how it goes, but remember…. you get more bees with honey. Meaning, if you ever need someone to help you out, they’re more likely to consider you a priority among many if you’re nice and respectful.


3.       Once I’ve done the FAFSA, I don’t have to do it every year….right?


a.       Wrong!! You MUST do the FAFSA EVERY year that you’re enrolled in school if you want financial aid. TRiO sends emails every year when it’s “that time”, so again, check your school email! The reason you have to do it every year? Because life changes. You or your family may experience a job loss, and you may be eligible for more money.


4.       Who sets the rules about financial aid?


a.       Nine times out of ten, the government sets the rules, not the school. The school may have their own policies or procedures about how to turn in documents to their office, or what forms you need to fill out to get your aid, but more times than not, our hands are tied. We handle A LOT of money; millions of dollars a year. With that kind of money, the government is going to place A LOT of rules on us in how we should be handling it. So, if there is something that annoys you about financial aid, try not to blame the messenger. We’re doing the best we can.

An example of one of the crazy government rules we have to follow? If you get more federal aid than your bill and you get a check for the extra, if you don’t cash it after 180 days, we HAVE to return it to the government. We can’t let it just sit in space.


5.       What should a student/parent do if their financial status changes in the middle of a year or semester (loses job, etc.)?

a.       Contact the Financial Aid office. There is this thing called a Special Circumstances Application, where you petition your award letter be potentially adjusted to reflect your new income. A lot of times this is a timing thing, so they may not be able to do anything right away, but ask what your office’s rules are concerning how to petition.


6.       Should we take out all the loans available? Do we have to?


a.       You should only be taking out loans for what we in my world call “qualifying education expenses”. This means tuition, fees, books, living expenses (like rent and food), and even child care. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, don’t max out your loans if you don’t absolutely, positively have to. This money isn’t free (obviously), and although the amounts you’re borrowing look manageable now, they add up, FAST. Trust me. I took MANY a trip to Florida in grad school, and those trips are the reasons why at age 29 I still go to the $3 movie theater.


7.       If I fill out the FAFSA, I am applying for loans. Correct?


a.       Sort of. The first “A” in FAFSA does stand for “application”, but there are a few more steps you need to do to actually request and take out the loans. You must complete the Loan Entrance Counseling and fill out the Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN is your way of saying “yes, I agree to pay these loans, and here are two names of people, who if I skip the country, know where you can find me”. So, you haven't taken out a loan until you have finished the required paperwork.


b.      At ARCC, you don’t need to do these two things EVERY year (just the first), but you do need to do a third step each year, which is to log onto your e-services and request a specific dollar amount of loans you’d like for the academic year (both fall and spring). Have your TRiO advisor help you if you get lost!


8.       Why is it a good idea to pay interest on my loans while I’m still in school?


a.       One word: capitalization. What this means is, the unsubsidized loans, those that accumulate interest WHILE in school, will, at the very end of school, add on to the total you took out in loans. Then that NEW total, will incur interest. So you’re accumulating (adding) interest on your interest.


9.       What is a subsidized loan?


a.       A subsidized loan is a loan given to you by the government, where they pay the interest on the loan while you are attending school. NOTE: You MUST be enrolled at least half-time, which is 6 credits or more. This is not an interest free loan; you DO pay interest on the loan after you’re done with school.


10.   Why do they do loans a semester at a time?

a.       We give aid to students one semester at a time because due to federal regulations, we can only award students aid if they’re enrolled. What does that mean exactly? We can’t give you aid for spring in the fall, because we can’t verify that you are actually going to be enrolled in spring. That would be super illegal of us, to give you money for something you haven’t started.


11.   Why should I do my FAFSA ASAP?

a.       You should do your FAFSA ASAP because there may be pockets of money you are eligible to receive that are a first come, first serve basis. At ARCC, they have funds from the government called the SEOG grant. That is federal money that goes to the neediest of students, and once it’s been awarded and runs out, there is no more.


12.   Can I get financial aid for summer semester? (Note: Summer is considered part of the same school year as the previous fall and spring.
Thus, Fall 2013-Spring 2014-Summer 2014 is one financial aid year.)

a.       Summer semester aid is such a pain in the butt. When I was a TRiO advisor I HATED that the FA office couldn’t simply tell me if a student had summer aid or not. The answer was always “we’ll have to see”. Now that I work in a financial aid office, I kind of get why they were so hesitant.

b.      You can only receive aid in the summer if you haven’t used all your aid over the school year. Each year you have a fixed amount of aid that can be used. If you use it all over fall and spring, most times, there isn’t any left for summer. Even loans? Yes, even loans. If you use your entire eligibility over fall and spring, you don’t automatically get more for summer. Summer is typically an out of pocket expense UNLESS you were part time or ¾ time during the year, didn’t use all your aid, and didn’t max out your loans. And even then, you need to be in at least 6 credits to get loans for the summer. ALWAYS talk to your TRiO advisor to see if taking two classes over the summer is a good idea. Summer classes are accelerated, which means they move fast, and just because you have aid to do it, doesn’t mean it would be smart for you in other ways.


13.   Are the loans offered through FAFSA better than just going to a bank? Why or why not?

a.       My opinion; Stafford Loans (the loans given to you through the FAFSA) tend to be a better deal than a private loan from the bank. They may have lower interest rates (may not, you’d have to check that out for yourself), but the loans through the government have some pretty flexible repayment options. Meaning? You can choose a 10 year repayment, a 20 year repayment, you may qualify for income-based repayment (if you don’t have THE job right out of college and don’t make a lot just yet), etc. Ask your TRiO advisor for more details on the different repayment options.


14.   Should I consolidate my loans or not? Why?

a.       Consolidating your loans means you take all the loans you took out and combine them into one lump sum, and make one payment on your loans a month (as opposed to potentially a few different payments to different lenders). So that is the good part of consolidation; less things to worry about as your loans are all in one place, with one servicer.

b.      The only real downside is if you had different interest rates on your loans. So if some of your loans only had a 4% interest rate and some had 6.8%, they’ll average the rates on ALL the loans and that will be your new interest rate on all your consolidated loans. You may lose out on a lower interest rate on some of your loans to have them all in one place.

c.       For me? I consolidated. I didn’t have very many with a low interest rate, and I wanted them all in one place. My co-worker didn’t consolidate because she had quite a few loans with a lower interest rate, so it was financially better for her to NOT do it.

*If you consolidate, be sure to be aware of the repayment schedule: Consolidation might cause the loan(s) to be in repayment right away instead of being delayed.


15.   Why is it called ‘financial aid’ when some of it is in the form of loans?

a.       Because without the loans, you probably wouldn’t be able to go to school. So the loans, even though you have to pay them back, still aided you in being able to go to school at all.


16.   What is a grant?

a.       A grant is free money given to you based on most likely economic need that does not need to be returned. Disclaimed: It’s only free if you actually go to class. If you get a grant, and then fail out of your courses, odds are you’re going to have to pay a portion back to the government. So yes, grants are GREAT, but know that with free money, it’s not necessarily strings-free. You have to perform in your classes and do well to keep getting the grants.


17.   I am not 24, but I have no contact with my parents and live on my own. Am I considered independent?

a.       No, you’re not. Unfortunately, not speaking to your parents and even supporting yourself isn’t enough to make you independent on the FAFSA. There is a way to petition this though. You would be seeking to be approved for something called a “Dependency Override”. Each school is a bit different in how they work this, but generally you’ll need to write a personal statement explaining the situation and then have TWO legit references attesting to the fact that you have been supporting yourself for a while and do not have communication with your family. These references have to be legit, meaning, a school official or a social worker. It can’t be your friend who knows you don’t talk to them. It may be a family member (like an Aunt or Uncle), but again, that second reference needs to be an Official of some department somewhere.


18.   Do I just say I want a work-study job and they give me one?

a.       No. You may be eligible to receive work study money, but unfortunately there are not enough jobs on campus for every person who wants a job, so you must apply to an open position like you would any other job. Talk to your TRiO advisor about this: they can help you search open positions as well as help you get a resume together.


19.   Explain what’s wrong with this attitude: “I’m just going to take out all these loans, they won’t be due until I’m done with school and I’ll worry about it then.” Related: "They offered more than I asked for! Sweet! I’ll take it all!"

a.       Ugh, BAD IDEA. Just because you have loans, doesn’t mean you should take them. It’s not free money, and you do have to pay it back. And my guess is you won’t be making much straight out of college. And even if you are, having tons of loans really makes your paycheck seem much smaller. Loans can come to bite you in the butt, meaning it may have you putting off getting married, buying a home, traveling, etc. It seems like a great idea at the time, but trust me, from personal experience, having too many loans for no good reason SUCKS. My loan payments are more than my monthly budget for my cell phone, utilities, and cable/internet COMBINED.


20.   Does my family have to contribute their EFC as shown?

a.       No, they don’t. An EFC is an expected family contribution. Meaning, you did your FAFSA, and the government comes back and says “Given what income you reported on the FAFSA, we think you and your family should be able to pay X amount towards your schooling”. Most of the time, the EFC is more than you actually have, and it’s annoying. But that EFC is what they use to award you stuff like the Pell Grant and Minnesota State Grant. It’s an expected family contribution, not a required family contribution.

Thanks, Shannon, for all the great advice!

Check out these calculators to help you see how much your loans will 'cost' you: