The College Money Man's Podcast | By Jose "JR" Vazquez | A Podcast Discussing Scholarships, Financial Aid, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals (SAP Appeals), Financial Aid Appeals, and EFC Appeals

About JR

The College Money Man is the alter ego of Jose “JR” Vazquez. In addition to having worked in a college Financial Aid office, JR managed to accumulate over $250,000 in financial aid he never has to pay back…EVER! While attending college, JR was able to…

wait, why am I writing this in the third person…

Look, lets be honest; I wasnt an athlete (I lettered in woodshop), a genius (can you spell GED), or an artist (just look at the design of this blog). I didn’t have a lot in the scholarship arsenal that would make me to typical winner. But I did have one thing in my corner many didn’t have….absolutely nothing to lose.

After serving in the US Navy, and working as a construction laborer for several years, I decided I had enough of back breaking work. By taking the time to think it out what I wanted, and months of research, I somehow accumulated over a quarter million in financial aid that paid for both my undergraduate and my MBA. During my undergraduate years, I spent time working in the financial aid office picking up the tools of the trade. And what do I do with that education…not what you would think, but I’m unusually happy for some reason. Besides grant writing on behalf of Not-For-Profit organizations, I spend my time teaching others to make the most of the financial aid system. This blog is focused on helping people find ways to finance their education.

If you are a parent or club officer that would like to hear JR speak at your event,you can contact me via email; my email address is JR.Vazquez.11 at gmail dot com.

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12 thoughts on “About JR”

  1. My son is incarcerated locally in a minimun security facility and will be for a long time. He doesn’t want to just waste his life. He is looking to obtain an mba through extended courses. My husband and I have limited income, I’m retired and he is close to retiring. We cannot afford to pay for his education. He has his associates and can go from there. I have checked with the school (Adams State Univ) and they don’t offer any assistance to incarcerated individuals. So many of the State’s prisoners have been losing educational and job related skills due to budget cuts. Can you direct me to where to start searching for help for him. Thank you, L. Flick

    Like

    1. Hello Lita,

      Thank you for you email. First of all, thank you for your question, and helping me to begin addressing this topic.

      This is a tough one, and you have stated part of the problem is budget cuts often go first to educational programs in correctional centers. But lets start with his education. First off, if he has his associates, and not his bachelors, an MBA is out of his reach until he completes a Bachelors program. However, this is actually a GREAT THING, and your son will actually be in a bit of luck when he is released with regard to financial aid, and here is why:

      When someone is released from custody, they often have had no taxable income in the prior year. This means that his Expected Family Contribution will be ZERO when he files his FAFSA. Since he does not actually have his bachelors yet, he is eligible for all forms of Federal and State financial aid, provided he was not convicted of selling drugs while receiving financial aid in college. If he was while attending school AND receiving aid, he would lose one years eligibility. Otherwise, he would be eligible for the full range of grants and Low interest student loan programs to pursue his MBA. In addition, he may be eligible for such programs as the Work Force Investment Act should he choose to return to school in an approved state program. Furthermore, he is more than eligible to apply for scholarships as well, as they often do not ask for criminal history.

      The best way to help your son for now is to help him “bone-up” on certain subjects in preparation for his release. While he may have his associates, he will need new skills to be prepared for his bachelors coursework if he majors in business. Topics such as introductory accounting, introductory finance, and introductory economics will help put him on the right path towards being prepared for classes. Many of these books can be found dirt cheap on amazon.com, and the links to those are books I recommend as the information does not change from year to year. (They are also paper back, so they will pass muster with the correctional center rules barring hardcover books.)

      After he completes his Bachelors, he can pursue his MBA with gusto, and a solid GPA and two-three years of time spent in school, and possibly working to re-build his life. While he is inside, the best thing he can do is study up for release as I have yet to find any programs that will award aid while incarcerated. But don’t give up hope, and help him to keep his chin up. If he wants to make a better life for himself post release he can. It will take some hard work, but he can get it paid for, and for the most part his education could be free if he plays his cards right.

      Also, on a closing note,in the year he is going to be released,be sure to file his FAFSA on his behalf early in the year. This way, he will be able to claim the financial aid he will need and be read to hit the ground running upon release. Either way, good luck, and good hunting!

      Regards

      JR Vazquez

      Like

  2. Hello JR, thanks for your Podcasts!

    Background:
    I currently live in the US, but I am applying for the University College London, in England for a graduate degree. This school has a “FAFSA” code meaning (from what I understand, I might be wrong) I can request US FAFSA money to attend there. I will be applying soon to start the fall of 2013.

    Problem:
    The UCL college application wants me to name the scholarships I have applied for or the scholarships I have won so they know I have my funds ready for their tuition bill. The thing is how can I tell them or give them names of scholarships I have applied for or won, if in order for me to apply for scholarships I have to be accepted already into an accredited institution in the first place!

    Questions:
    Should I start sending scholarships applications now even if not yet accepted into a school?
    If so, basically this means that I have to lie and say something like: I have been accepted in lalala school? or can I say something like: I intend to be doing my undergraduate in lalala school? or Should I simply apply to UCL first (even though UCL wants me to name scholarships, so I would have to leave those spaces blank) and once I have an offer start applying to scholarships?
    This feel very “chicken or the egg” to me, I hope you can help me, and keep up the pod casts!
    Thank you so much!

    Like

    1. Hi Marina,

      Thanks for your email question; I’ll take this question one step at a time as To address your primary problem, the chicken and the egg issue is a pain that many have dealt with. You want to be honest, and you want to apply with complete information, but leaving a blank can get you kicked quick. To help get some expert advice, I turned to the Scholarship Office at my Alma Mater, Western Illinois University (www.wiu.edu). WIU has over 500 named scholarships from multiple endowments that they award each year.

      Terri Hare is the current director of the Scholarship Office, and spent over 26 years in the financial aid field. According to Terri, you should always mention in your essay the schools you are apply to and intend to gain admission to. In addition, make a note of it on the application with a separate note if needed. Never leave information out or unclear. (You Can Listen to Her Answer Here.

      Now to address a couple of things that I was concerned about. You say you are moving onto a graduate program and you want to attend UCL. Now you are correct in that the fafsa does have a code for them. Problem is, is that the US Department of Ed does not pay to these schools directly. Only certain scholarships offered by the department of Ed qualify for overseas study. A list is below for your review, which may help fund you education depending on your major.
      I have put in a call to a friend and director of financial aid at California State University @ Monterey Bay to review the rules. However many study abroad programs are sponsored by a US institution who receives the funds and then pays the foreign school separately.

      The loans you would receive would be paid directly to YOU, and not the school. In addition, loan limits are attached to those. For example, if you are working on a Undergrad degree there, you would be confined to undergrad limits. If it is a graduate degree, then the limits are higher.

      Just in case, I wanted you to have as much info as possible and recommend checking in with the DOE at the info below.

      I hope this info helps. Check out this weeks podcast to hear an answer to your question as well.

      No matter what, good luck with your education, and email at anytime!

      Regards

      Jr the College Money Man

      For more information about federal student aid, see
      http://www.studentaid.ed.gov
      or call the
      Federal Student Aid Information Center at
      1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
      TTY: 1-800-730-8913
      Toll number for inquirers calling from
      foreign countries: +1-319-337-5665
      http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/index.jsp

      Grant Programs Offered By The Federal Government

      There are specific grants & loans permitting overseas study,
      Some examples:

      National Security Language Initiative:

      Fulbright U.S. Student Program:
      Provides up to six months of intensive critical language training before the regular Fulbright grant period begins. In 2007, 146 awards were made for study in Arabic, Chinese, Indic, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkic languages. Open to Americans applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in selected countries where critical languages are spoken.
      Website: http://www.us.fulbrightonline.org

      Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Language Institutes:
      Awards scholarships for overseas intensive summer language institutes. Last year, 363 critical language scholarships were awarded for beginning, intermediate, and advanced study in Arabic, Chinese, Indic, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkic languages. In 2008, the program will expand to approximately 525 scholarships. Open to American undergraduate and graduate students.
      Website: http://www.clscholarship.org

      Gilman Scholarships:
      Provides financial support to pursue overseas study in semester or one-year programs for college credit. Supporting more than 200 students in 2007-2008. Open to American undergraduates who are Pell grant recipients (financially-needy).
      Website: http://www.iie.org//programs/gilman

      Youth Exchanges:
      (1) Summer Language Institutes: Provides U.S. high school students the opportunity to study critical languages overseas in intensive six- to eight-week summer institutes. In 2007, 130 American students studied Chinese and Arabic in Beijing, Shanghai, Amman, Marrakech, and Cairo, with plans to increase the number of students in 2008.
      (2) Academic Semester or Year Abroad: In 2009, will provide U.S. high school students the opportunity to spend a high school semester or year abroad studying critical languages.
      Website: http://www.exchanges.state.gov/education/citizens/students/
      http://exchanges.state.gov/NSLI/fact_sheet.htm

      http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/index.html

      Useful “one-stop” link with references to a log of information:
      http://www.worldstudy.gov/netlinksto.html

      Like

  3. Hi there!

    It’s so great first to be able to write to someone who knows what he’s talking about and expect a reply in a reasonable amount of time. So here it goes!

    I just graduated from a four year school and got by BA in psychology. Thankfully, that was all paid for by a full scholarship (tuition, room, and board). I’m headed off to graduate school at a very prestigious university, but also very expensive. I need to pull together $50,000. Like a majority of US families, mine if by far nowhere rich. My sister is currently in college and we are paying out of pocket for it. I have another sister who is about to start her junior year in high school so she isn’t far behind.

    I am working a part-time job at a nonprofit organization. I don’t know if I’ll have that job past the end of August, though since money is always a big issue. (If you have tips on money for nonprofits, that’d be great too!) I also received $6,000 federal work study for the whole year from my university.

    So that leaves me with a pretty major gap. I have been following scholarships like crazy, applying to everyone that might be relevant to me, but no luck yet. Any thoughts!?

    Like

    1. Dear Psychology Student (if that is your real name lol 😉

      Thank you for you email. Congrats on completing your BA. Pysch can get you going, and opens some doors. Now we need to refine a few things. If you could answer some questions this would help me make some initial recommendations.

      1) Is your jobs provided through the “Federal Work Study Program”?
      2) What is your Expected Family Contribution for this upcoming year
      3) Have you Already filed the FAFSA
      4) Did you have a radical change in income this past 12 months such as Job loss, lay off, or new hire due to move?
      5) What is your current major for grad school
      6) What is your current career goal?
      7) Have you ever received any of the following grants as an undergrad: Pell, SEOG, TEACH?
      8) Approximate GPA, Undergrad
      9) School of attendance?
      10) GRE/GMAT/LSAT Score?
      11) approximately how much did you earn last year from your jobs (you only, within about $1000)
      12) Are you a member of a minority group (you can skip this if you are uncomfortable, it just helps me narrow down a couple that are large and easy to access)

      This will help me narrow down your options. I look forward to hearing from you.

      Regards

      JR

      Like

  4. First the background: My son’s total cost per year of education is about 28,000. He has a $5000.00 per year scholarship from the school that is for all four years. He received another 5,000.00 in other scholarships last year (his freshman year), but some of those were one-time type awards. Others, he has to reapply for each year, which he has and was chosen for one, so his total scholarship awards for his sophomore year are just $2,000.00 He also was awarded a work-study of $1,000.00 but last year only got hours for about $300.00. (he applied for many many jobs, but never even got interviews for most) So his deficit for last year was about $17,700 and this year will be more, due to loss of scholarships.

    He got the subsidized/unsubsidized loans of $5500, and then the rest was paid with a combination of contributions from us and his grandparents, and another private loan for $5,000.00.

    So right now, he already has $9500.00 of debt from the various loans. Another 3 years and he’s looking at nearly $40,000 and I think that it will be even more than that due to the loss of scholarships.

    Our EFC is very high $23,454 our income is about 70,000 with another 23,000 or of Military Retirement pay which bumps us up.

    Now the question: My son and his girlfriend (also a college student) want to get married. We’ve told them we don’t think it is wise until after finishing college, but my son said that if he were married, he’d be an “independent student” and therefore would not be subject to our income in financial aid equations. I”m skeptical. If he were to be married with his minimal income, would the amount of grants, etc that he qualifies for go up substantially, or is he just trying to use this argument to convince me that marrying while in school isn’t such a bad idea after all?

    Like

    1. April,

      Thank you for so much information. I always hate to disappoint a parent, but the truth is your son is right. If he gets married, his efc will be based on only his income without federal work study. In fact it will likely be ZERO. Therefore, their combined incomes as college students will likely set them up for full pell, FSEOG, state grants if available in your state, as well other benefits. I know as a parent the worry of a child marrying to soon, however in this case the long term benefits it’s regard to loan savings and other expenses may justify an early marriage.

      Thank you for your comments and question. feel free to email again at anytime.

      Regards

      Jr

      Like

      1. Wow, Interesting. I’m actually surprised then, that more “young lovers” don’t do this. Does the fact that they would still be attending different colleges have any bearing? It would be a long-distance relationship still during school, unless one of them transfers. Do they have to prove that they are supporting themselves? Because neither has a job that would make them capable of being self-supporting, so they’d still be counting on parents for basic essentials that aren’t covered in their school loans, such as car and health insurance, travel expenses, housing in the summer, etc.

        Like

        1. The FAFSA does not require the two to live together or even support one another” the default assumption is they that they do. So it is a moot point, they simply recognize the marriage and follow the formula accordingly. Married couples with no income are set an EFC of zero for both of them. School o f attendance does not matter in any way. Now, going out of state means higher tuition at state colleges, but otherwise the financial aid is the same. They only care about whether a marriage exists or not. If flagged for verification, you need only supply a marriage certificate. That’s it! I agree I’m shocked more don’t do this. However the issue is they don’t tell people this or anything that would make an advantageous situation with regard to EFC because to many would take advantage! But I say if you at getting married already, why not make the best of the situation and avoid student loans that will weigh down a marriage later!

          Regards

          Jr

          Like

  5. I have two daughters, one is already in College but with all her financial aid and state grants i only have to pay about $7,000 per ear. But my other daughter ,who graduates next year, is a bit more exquisite and wants to go out of state. By knowing how hard she works and pushes her self I’m sure she’ll get in but with such low income I doubt I’ll be able to pay that. I really don’t want to disappoint her because this has been her dream all along and it’s not fair that her sister got what she wanted. So I really need help on finding scholarships or grants that she could apply for.

    Like

    1. Lianne,

      Sorry about the delay. this one was a bit tricky, but I wanted to make sure you got the best advice.

      Now, be warned, you may not like this advice however I try to be as frank as possible.

      Lets start with the basic questions I have:

      Your first daughter, is she at a state school in your home state, or a private college?
      What is you second daughters intended major, and what schools is she considering?

      Lets begin with a few things every parent should know when it comes to federal and state aid. As you may know, state aid is only for in state schools. if you daughter leaves, she is on her own in that regard.

      Federal aid follows, and is portable. but it is limited as you well know. Any out of state school, either private or public will cost you close to 3 times the rate of an instate college. At that price, she might as well attend a private school in state so she can at least have the state aid.

      Now on the bright side, as more of your family attends college at the same time, the lower both of their EFC’s become and the more aid each will get. So if your first daughter got solid aid before, it will get even better soon if her EFC was not already Zero. However, again, if both end up with a ZERO EFC, the high cost of attending an out of state school will more than consume that additional aid.

      So here is the rub: if your second daughter gets into one of these out of state schools, and a very large tuition scholarship is not offered to attract her, then you will have to make a hard choice that no parent wants to make. I have a son myself, and the thought of not letting him go to his dream school is not one i would look forward to. However, as a practical matter, it comes down to the simple calculus of where the best fit between cost, aid, and preference lies. Do the hard math and figure out, how much each school costs on average, as well as how much you are willing to contribute. then factor in aid, and see what comes out.

      Finally, to make up the difference all kids need, you need to start looking for additional scholarships in her area of interest/ What is her intended major? what does she want to accomplish and in what career field?Areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields are in high demand and have far more aid available to them nowadays. Teaching also has a great deal of aid attached at the state, and federal level.

      Let me know ASAP what areas she is considering and I can make some additional suggestions. However, dont forget to save for retirement. There are no scholarships for that!

      Regards
      jr

      Like

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Scholarship Advice , Financial Aid Appeals & FAFSA Tips – Jose "JR" Vazquez

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