Jose JR Vazquez the College Money Man

Ask JR

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Applying for scholarships can be a daunting task, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can use the contact forms below, or Contact me @ Twitter: @CollegeCashMan if you don’t want to leave me a voice message.

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27 thoughts on “Ask JR”

  1. I qualify for the full pell grant but I also want to get a job while I’m in college. Do you know how much students can make before their fafsa pell grant is affected. By the way, I filed as an independent if that matters. Thank you for your help.

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    1. Hi Taylor,

      Ok, this one is a tricky one as it involves multiple details. The issue you deal with is that the goal is not to get above an EFC of $4995 for 2012-2013. It will likely be similar next year as well. Now, the pell grant goes down the higher the efc and the less hours you take. The key is not just to calculate working wages but other deductions. But on a simple calculation, if you earn less than 6400 this year, your EFC should be 0. But you could earn up to $15000 in pure wages and total assets and still not hit the $4995 number that cancels any Pell grant Aid. Just remember, if you work keep the following in mind:

      If you can get Federal Work Study – Use It. You see, work study dollars, while counted on the tax return, are discounted when you file next years FAFSA. SO you could earn the same amount of money on work study that you did working at mcdonalds can come out ahead in the EFC department.

      FSEOG Is Often ignored: The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is often overlooked. Now, you can only get it if you have also received pell. However, the limit is $4000 per year, but the amount is at the discretion of the school. If you didn’t get it, ask the financial aid office why right away. It could be an oversight.

      You are on the right track and paying attention to the right things. If you continue to look for other aid such as scholarships and outside grants, you should be able to save yourself a ton in student loans.

      Regards

      JR

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  2. I have reached my 6 year limit for the Pell grant program. I’m in my 50’s, disabled with arthritis, a widow and have had cancer surgery and I’m still having trouble finding scholarships that will help me. Any ideas?

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    1. Hi Nancy,

      The six year limit was imposed to help lower overall pell grant costs. But let me ask you a few questions to help give you the best info.

      1) what is your major currently?
      2) are you attending a four year or two year institution?
      3) are you in a private for profit or non for profit school?
      4) have you recently been laid off?
      5) what sites have you searched on so far for scholarship?

      When you reply to this I will work to give you the event answer I can.

      Regards

      Jr

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      1. I am an education major, k-8, attending a 4 year non-profit school that is primarily online. I have not been recently laid off, but my husband died 2 years ago. I have searched cappex, free scholarship, scholarship points, and several others that I can’t think of right now. Thanks, Nancy

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        1. Hi Nancy,

          So I did some looking. Now here’s some good news, and you will need to contact the financial aid office about this. While you may have exhausted your maximum pell eligibility there is another program that works in conjunction with pell called the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG.

          This grant is awarded usually to those with the lowest EFC’s which I imagine you have. what’s nice about it is this excerpt from the 2012-2013 financial aid guidelines from the department of Education.

          “A student who receives a Pell Grant at any time in the award year may be awarded an FSEOG for that award year; the student does not have to receive a Pell Grant in the same payment period as the FSEOG. For example, in the case of a student who receives a Pell Grant for the fall semester only due to reaching his lifetime eligibility used (LEU), the student may be awarded an FSEOG for both the fall semester and subsequent winter semester.
          If you have remaining FSEOG funds after making awards to all Pell Grant recipients for that award year, you must next select students with the lowest EFCs who are not receiving Pell Grants”

          So take the time to talk to your financial aid office and check as to why you have not been offered FSEOG. also, consider the Federal Work Study program. It allows you to work on campus without it effecting your financial aid in following years.

          Also, have you asked the financial aid office about the Federal TEACH GRANT? This is for aspiring teachers such as yourself. It might be perfect for you

          As for scholarships, I would Highly recommend the book The Ultimate Scholarship Guide 2012 by the Tannabes. it’s one of the most comprehensive.

          I hope this gets you started. Feel free to email me again via the site at anytime.

          Regards,

          Jr

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  3. Hi JR,
    I am going to be a freshman in college this fall at Savannah College of Art and Design, the total cost of off-campus tuition for this year is: $31,905. I have received some financial aid from the school and from loans which at first totaled:$22k but because I decided to live off campus they are only going to give me 70% of my financial aid money. So now I still need $16,405 to pay it fully. I have applied for a few more loans but they were declined because my cosigners had bad credit. I don’t know who else to ask to be a cosigner so I have been applying for scholarships. I need to have my money payed by August the 1st so that I can attend SCAD this coming September. I would like to do work study but i may not be eligible because I’m living off-campus. My mom works, but my dad has been unemployed for the past 4 years. He is self employed through his music but even still their incomes combined is not very much. My sister is entering her third year in college and she lives on campus so she has to pay $500 monthly rent. We also recently were in a car accident and we only have one car so getting it fixed costed my family a lot of money. so I know for sure we are unable to pay out of pocket. What do you suggest I do to receive further financial aid?

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  4. Hello! I’m returning to college to get my teaching certificate (and bachelors) in Elementary Ed. I already have a BS in Bus. Mgmt and MBA so my options for the ‘Grow Your Own’ Teacher program are out (where you commit to work in a school district for up to five years in exchange for them paying for tuition). Also, if I understood the financial aid rep, this also takes me out of the running for subsidized and unsubsidized loans and my only option is now private loans such as Wells Fargo or Sally Mae. Is this correct?
    I’m on FastWeb.com daily looking for scholarships and have applied for one I may be elegible for as a mother of twins, but I am definitely open to suggestions about where to look for more opportunities. I’ve been out of college over 10 years and am a little rusty at all this. I appreciate any help you can offer!

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      1. Hillary,

        so sorry for the delay, but there were two reasons: first, you ere in the spam folder for some reason, and second once I found your email I had an issue finding a solution.

        Heres what sucks: you are right, as post graduate relief is slim to none. However, you might have an option depending on where you plan to teach: Major cities and states (think new york, California) have programs for those with graduate degrees to hold temporary teaching certificates while they pursue additional degrees in their area of emphasis.

        However, your best route, is to pursue your undergrad in teaching in a target area, and utilize student loans. Then agree to work in an underserved area to get those loans forgiven or paid for.

        Check out this link for more info: http://bit.ly/QImrbf

        It does not specifically restrict those who have degrees in other areas. I would recommend qualifying in a graduate program rather than an undergrad, as the loan limits are higher.

        Either way, look into it and get back to me. Again sorry about the delay, and good luck.
        Regards

        jr

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  5. I’m trying to attend law school, but my grades aren’t the best (2.5 GPA Undergrad) (3.6 GPA Grad) (159 LSAT Score). I will have a Masters degree in Public Administration and I was wondering if that would help my chances of being accepted to a good school? I’m also finding it hard to find money for law school as well. I was wondering if there are any specific scholarships that you knew of? I’m hoping you can guide me in the right direction.

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    1. Hi D,

      Let me ask you a few questions. If your undergrad GPA was 2.5 , what was your MPA GPA in grad school? Also, did you. Take either a Kaplan or other testing service course before taking the LSAT?

      In addition, have you ever been in the US military?

      Let me know and I think I can find you some solutions that will pick up the tab for your JD.

      Regards

      Jr

      Like

      1. I did not take the Kaplan course since I couldn’t afford it. My GPA in grad is a 3.6, and I’ve never been in the military before.

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        1. Hi D,

          Ok, your grad GPA is decent, and your LSAT is one point above the 95% Bar Exam percentile, so if you target the right Law School, you have a good shot. The key will be to put together a solid essay, an excellent CV, and apply what you gained in your MPA program as a motivation for acquiring your JD.

          As to admissions, pay attention to the schools you are review and there individual stats with regard to average scores of incoming classes. I am one who believes in being realistic about admissions, as even with my scores I wouldn’t begin to try for Harvard. Look at the law schools in Illinois such as SIUC Law, Kent, and John Marshall.

          Now since you are a TA in Poli Sci at WIU, you should make sure you take advantage of that fact. Make sure your Advisor/Prof offers a letter of rec that is detailed, insightful, and plays up your work ethic well.

          Also, if you are considering becoming a professor, check out the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois, a program from the state that encourages minority students to enter faculty service by supporting grad school via tuition and stipend grants. You cant find it at http://www.ibhe.org/DFI.

          Also, get hunting for additional aid for scholarships that are not attached to grad school, but all grades. Check out the ABA website for aid as well.

          Good luck
          jr

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  6. Hi! i was wondering.. when applying for fafsa there is a section where it asks something about where you plan to live: parents, on campus or off campus. i currently live with my parents but would like to live off campus, does it matter which i choose whether i put parents or off campus? some say you get more money if you live off campus, is that true also?
    thanks so much!

    Like

    1. Marissa,

      where you mark you will live has exactly ZERO effect on your EFC, or on the aid you receive. it simply allows the school to calculate your Estimated Cost of Attendance, or ECA, based on preset figures for those living on or off campus. Living on or off campus does not get you more aid. So mark either one as you see fit. Just know that marking on-campus signals the school as to your intentions and helps them prepare and set your ECA accordingly.

      Regards

      Jr

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    1. there is no bad time: You should be looking and applying at all points of the year as early as possible. Now is the time to apply for next years scholarships. This is a great time for hunting, long before many are due. Get on it while you can!

      regards

      jr

      Like

  7. Hi so i recently heard from another student at my school that the federal grants only lasts up to four years. My worry is that this is the beginning of my fourth year in college but i need two more semesters to get my bachelors. In other words, ill be graduating next fall. Will i no longer be able to apply for federal grants? ive received the federal pell grant, and cal grant b all four years so far. Im not sure what to do or how to find out since i read different info everywhere. Thank you!

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      1. yes i have been full time all four years and i do believe i have received cal grant b those four years. I attend California State University, Stanislaus and have been the last four years.

        Thanks

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  8. hello my name is Amber I want to become a nurse and I don’t know the top 3 colleges I want to go to in Florida I just moved down here and I was wondering if you can help me with the top 3 colleges that are good in Florida I have a 3.0 to 3.74GPA so I can go to a good medical college

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  9. Hi There I am an older returning student….

    I have been unable to get financial aid due to bad grades I received 20 years ago.
    I have since retaken all of those courses and hava great GPA. I went to my financial aid office and they told me even though I now was academically qualified I could not receive anything because I just got married and my wife’s school teacher income is too much even though she support me and our 9 month old daughter…I have looked into scholarships and things but so far have found no money… Any suggestions or something I might be missing?

    I am 2 science classes away from a AS in multiple Sciences but I am trying to get into a A.S. Rad Tech program mainly. for which I have completed all Pre Reqs and am going to apply this year for Fall..

    Thanks for any help!!!!

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  10. Hello, my mom married a few years ago and could not sell our condo when we moved in with my stepdad. The mortgage company got in trouble with the government which means she got $50000 mortgage forgiveness which counts as income along with a $10000 tax bill so money is very tight now. That made the EFC really high, like over 50000 which we don’t have. Is there anything I can do to get some kind of aid?

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  11. I am an adult college student. l have no children at home and rent. I made less than $15000 last year and was wondering how much income can you make and still qualify for a pell grant and will that effect the amount I might receive.

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    1. Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for your email. If you check todays podcast on iTuns/Stitcher Radio, or on my site, I have answered your question in broad strokes.

      Essentially, if you review the quick EFC chart at the article by Tory Onink, you find that at 15000 agi, you will likely have an EFC of ZERO. However, if you make more, refer tot he chart to see where you would fall on the scale for your estimated EFC.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to email me again anytime.

      Regards

      JR

      Like

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

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