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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Financial Aid Education Geared Toward Student Retention and Community Awareness


Cathy Hardy, director of Financial Aid, talks with students about paying for college at the College's New Student Orientation.

Waterbury, Conn. - The financial aid process has long been the bane of college students nationwide, which is why Naugatuck Valley Community College has ramped up its efforts to educate not only its students, but all potential college students within the College’s 22-town service region.

In 2013, financial aid officers will host a series of interactive workshops throughout the College for current students and on weekends for prospective students. At a financial aid workshop, students and their families work directly on their financial aid application while receiving guidance from NVCC staff.

The College will also hold financial aid nights at area high schools and work with parents through the six Bridge to College programs offered by the College to familiarize prospective applicants with the financial aid process as early as possible.

“With the economy struggling the way it is, it’s really important that people know how and when to apply for financial aid,” said Cathy Hardy, director of Financial Aid. “The earlier students turn in a completed application, the more likely they are to receive the full financial help they need.”

Financial aid is distributed based on a family’s expected family contribution (EFC), which is determined during the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. Colleges use a student’s EFC together with their cost of attendance to determine how much financial aid they can receive.

The College participated in College Goal Sunday, a national movement to educate the community about FAFSA in January and hosted an independent Saturday workshop in February. The third and final weekend workshop will be held March 23. A special presentation was also made to eleventh grade students and their parents via the College Access Challenge grant program on Feb. 25.

To help current students, financial aid review sessions are held in conjunction with First Year Experience (FYE) courses, ensuring that first-time full-time students are educated immediately after entering College. Officers also work closely with identified “at-risk” groups such as the WAVE program.

 “We believe that financial aid is key to getting students into College and also to keeping them here,” said Hardy. “One of the main reasons students ‘take a break’ from college is affordability. Once a student stops coming to college though, even for a semester, their likelihood of graduating significantly decreases.”

To date, 5,550 students have received financial aid totaling approximately $14.5 million for academic year 2012-13, which doesn’t include summer aid awards. This year’s awards have already exceeded awards for 2011-12 by about $300,000.

For more information about financial aid or to organize financial aid training through the College, visit www.nv.edu/financialaid or call 203-575-8274.

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