Wethersfield praised for connecting students with financial aid

For decades, tuition fees — and total student debt — have been steadily rising.

Researchers at Georgetown University recently analyzed data from the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and National Center for Education Statistics and found that between 1980 and 2019, college education costs increased by 169%. But recently, this trend has slowed down.

According to the College Board’s 2021 “Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid” report, during the 2021-2022 academic year, average tuition prices increased at historically low rates due to the pandemic – and a when adjusted for inflation, they even fell. Yet in these tough economic times, when the costs of gas, food and other necessities are rising, families with college-going children are looking for ways to make higher education affordable. .

Wethersfield High School was recently recognized by the Illinois Student Aid Commission (ISAC) for its work to help seniors access financial assistance during the 2020-21 school year. Wethersfield was one of 431 public and private schools in the state to receive an “Excellence” award banner for supporting its students through the financial aid process.

State law requires all public high school students in Illinois to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Illinois Alternative Application for Financial Aid as a prerequisite for obtaining graduate school. a high school diploma. Additionally, high schools are expected to provide students and their families with any support or guidance necessary to comply with the requirement. For students who choose not to file, a FAFSA opt-out form can be signed by a parent or guardian. All applications can be completed with the help of the school’s guidance counselor.

Wethersfield guidance counselor Jessica Seiden said all 35 students from last year’s senior class were involved in the application process. Of those, 26 applied for financial aid and nine filed waivers, indicating they were entering the workforce, doing military service, or having other non-academic plans after graduation.

Completing a financial aid application is often the first step in making post-high school education possible for Illinois students. According to the ISAC website, an Illinois student who completes a financial aid form may be eligible to receive up to $11,991 if they qualify for the Federal Pell Grant and Cash Reward Program. of Illinois – funding that can make a difference for thousands of low-income people. students across the state.

Financial aid will help pay for college or career school. Grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships help make college or vocational schools affordable by helping students pay the rising costs of higher education – tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

Seiden said student applications are sent to institutions listed by students as their potential choices for post-secondary education, as well as to ISAC. Applications are reviewed and students are informed of the forms of financial aid for which they are eligible. At the start of their student’s senior year, parents are invited to a meeting where the various financial aid options are explained in detail and questions answered.

The Guidance Department also has a link on the district website with information available on career planning, documents needed, helpful resources, and available local, state, and national scholarships. Seiden said sometimes the hardest part of the process is keeping students on track and helping them realize how important financial aid will be for the next phase of their lives.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m stalking them to make sure they stay on track and keep up,” said Seiden, who worked on this year’s seniors who are set to graduate in less than three months.