Guest Blog: Advice from Wheaton College Financial Aid Professional Beth Mohan
If you're a family with a high school junior beginning college visits, this is a great time to make sure you understand the importance of talking with the financial aid office at each school. MEFA works closely with financial aid professionals at colleges and universities across the Commonwealth, and we know firsthand that they value interactions with families at all stages of the college search.
One such individual is my long-time colleague, Beth Mohan, from Wheaton College. Beth's dedication to the profession and to her students and their families is unparalleled. The direction and support she provides to families is outstanding, and when I asked her what advice she would give to the high school juniors and their families who will be visiting campuses over the next year, she shared the advice below:
- Never be afraid to call the Financial Aid Office and ask questions.
Sometimes people may feel afraid to pick up the phone or send an email to the financial aid office. Getting the information a family needs is very important, especially if the question is specific to a particular college or university. Remember to get the name of the person with whom you spoke; after all, this could end up as a 4-year relationship.
- Have your questions ready.
It's helpful to have a list of questions to ask at every school you visit, including:
- What is the financial aid deadline? (Deadlines are super important)
- What financial aid forms are required?
- What is your policy on outside scholarships? Will bringing in an outside scholarship add to my financial aid offer or subtract from it?
- Do you have need-based scholarships?
- Do you have merit-based scholarships?
- Are students able to find jobs on campus?
- Get organized.
Make a spreadsheet or make folders for each college you visit. This will be extremely useful as you move along in the process.
- Parents and students should talk about finances and affordability early.
Use the Net Price Calculator on each college's website to get an estimate of your possible financial aid eligibility at a particular school. As you prepare for the college application process you'll want to have a variety of colleges and universities on your list to consider for both academic and financial reasons. This is critical to reducing stress in this process.
Beth has been employed at Wheaton College for over 25 years. In addition to working in the financial aid field, she is also the parent of two college graduates. In a recent conversation, she told me, "I really enjoy helping families navigate the financial aid process and often draw on my experience as both a financial aid professional and as a parent who has gone through the financial aid process herself." Great advice from a seasoned and dedicated professional!