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5 Things You Should Know About Financial Aid

5 Things You Should Know About Financial Aid

Whether you are a dependent student attending College straight out of high school, a mature learner, a sole support parent, married or a parent interested in learning more about financial aid options – this information should help. Please leave me a comment or question – I’d be so happy to hear from you!

  1. We’re not just OSAP!

Although we are largely known by students (and sometimes staff and faculty) as the “OSAP office” – we do much more than process OSAP applications. The financial aid office is composed of a dynamic group of individuals committed to helping students achieve financial success during their DC journey. We offer budget counselling, which is likely our most underutilized service. We offer workshops and seminars to students all about how to manage your cash flow and make value based spending decisions. We adjudicate bursaries, awards and scholarships and help students maximize their resources. Students should come in and sit down with a financial aid officer at least once to go over their financial plan. Chances are – they are going to learn something! Financial literacy is so important for post-secondary students and especially for life-after-College. Developing and sharpening these skills are important NOW and for your future. Prepare your budget and come visit financial aid. Having a fresh, expert pair of eyes look at your budget can help identify some things you might just overlook due to lack of experience with making a budget. Or perhaps there are things you simply don’t know about. The earlier we can identify any financial shortfalls, the quicker we can help you create a game plan to minimize or eliminate that gap. Plus – we are all really friendly!

  1. We are the OSAP experts!

I gather this one seems to contradict the above, however, it is important to know that we are the “OSAP experts” on campus. I can’t tell you how many times people will come in and say “Well my friend in Chem 101 told me that…” There are so many misconceptions about OSAP that is always in your best interest to get your financial aid information directly from the financial aid experts themselves. If we don’t know the answer, we have the resources and capabilities to gather the correct information for you on your behalf. OSAP is a complex program with many different lenders and funding options all bundled into one application. It is important to note that this is a student driven process. So if you are the student who waits until the first week of school to submit your academic probation letter – be prepared to maybe wait a couple of weeks for your funding to arrive. We work non-stop to ensure all the supporting documents are processed, however, submitting them late will just delay the processing so get things done as early as you can. We ARE here ALL summer… I know… *sigh*

  1. We don’t know what we don’t know.

We are here to help you! We are here to help you understand the financial aid processes like how OSAP works, how bursaries are assessed etc. However, it is up to you – the student – to let us know when something isn’t going to work for you. Many of the programs facilitated by the financial aid office are needs-based. This means that the amount of funding you are eligible to receive should be a good reflection of your financial need. Although we know that sometimes, that is just not the case. If you feel like the amount of funding you are eligible to receive isn’t going to cut it – let us know. We can help assess for OSAP appeals that could potentially generate additional funding for you.  This is where our expertise becomes incredibly beneficial to students. OSAP is complex and we don’t expect students to know what appeal options are right for them – it is their job to let us know when they need help and we are always more than happy to try and find a workable solution. Your success is our success!

  1. We are here to help you!

One thing I discovered very quickly when I was working in financial aid is that many students and parents believed in a negative stigma associated with the financial aid office. Some believed we didn’t want to help – we were simply the office that said no on behalf of OSAP. Although sometimes we do have to deliver unfavourable news regarding eligibility – we want to help find a solution for you to be successful. There are always many options to explore (On campus employment, bursaries both internal and external, student line of credit) and often some effort will need to be put forth by the student but we are in this together – we WANT to help you stay in school and be financially successful.

  1. We can relate.

All of us here in the financial aid office have been there. We have all had many different and unique life experiences that help us connect with you – the students! We went to College and/or university and we understand the hardships that students face from time to time. We get how busy you are with class and work and assignments and social stuff and I could just keep going here but you get the idea. We also understand that finances can be a huge stressor for you – because we recall that same feeling when we were there. Come in and talk to us. If we can’t assist, we will always refer you to a useful resource that could be better suited to help you based on the circumstances you are experiencing.

From left, Tatiana, Brenda and myself having some fun at our annual OASFAA conference!

From left, Tatiana, Brenda and myself having some fun at our annual OASFAA conference!

So – what are you waiting for?! Book an appointment to meet with a financial aid officer today! You can book an appointment using the online functionality located under the DC Financial Aid tab on Mycampus. Or you can visit the Financial Aid Officer of the day located at station 2 on the second floor of the Student Services Building.

Cheers,

Celeste

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Celeste Coles

Financial expert, hockey mom, problem solver, fun seeker.

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