Financial Aid Office

Why students shouldn’t be intimidated

By Jessenya Guerra
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Student walking into the financial aid office on the third floor of the Student Services Building. Photo by Jessenya Guerra.

As the new school year begins and deadlines approach, many students begin to worry about financial aid and the details concerning it that are not as commonly known. California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) has resources available to ease students of their worry, including the financial aid office.

The Lutrinae had the pleasure of speaking with Angeles Fuentes, Director of Financial Aid Services, and Ashlie McCallon, Lead Financial Aid Counselor, about the details concerning financial aid and what students can expect this year.

The Lutrinae: How can new students be encouraged to not be scared of visiting the financial aid office?

Fuentes: “When you are dealing with anything financial, I don’t want to use the word scary, but it can be a little bit intimidating. It definitely isn’t a scary place to come and we will definitely get all of their questions answered. At times, things might get a little bit complicated because of the federal guidelines that we have to follow but students will definitely get an answer, even if it might not be the answer that they’re looking for. We are here to assist students but we also have to follow federal and state regulation.”

The Lutrinae: When is the financial aid going to be disbursed?

McCallon: “Financial aid is disbursed, as long as the students have completed all of the requirements on their to do lists, in[to] their OASIS accounts starting at the end of the first week of school.”

The Lutrinae: When can I get my financial aid refund?

McCallon: “There’s two ways that financial aid sends out refunds to students. We either deposit into students bank accounts at the end of the first week of school, beginning of the second week, or we send out checks at the end of the second week. That’s really the big question that they always ask.”

The Lutrinae: What should students do if they haven’t received their aid?

Fuentes: “That’s a little bit of a difficult question to answer just because it could be one of many different scenarios, this is case by case. I don’t know if a lot of students are aware but whether a student has received financial aid or not, they do have that $500 credit that they can use at the bookstore. What happens is they are actually back billed to their OASIS account and it’s only for educational purposes so, of course, you can’t go get a sweater or any of the yummy food there. It would be for books you need for class and perhaps writing supplies, which [is] then billed to OASIS upto $500. Then when your financial aid comes in, it’s just taken care of which is a really great resource.”

McCallon: “A lot of students don’t realize, for example, that with student loans there are two additional requirements you need to do, one is complete a loan entrance counseling workshop and one is complete a master promissory note. Most of the time with student loans, what we find is that the student needed both requirements but they may have completed one or the other, or none of the requirements.”

The Lutrinae: Should students be scared to come to the financial aid office?

Fuentes: “Absolutely not. Our priority is our students here at CSUMB. As I said, anything that deals with money can be a little bit intimidating but we’re here to help them. Sometimes it’s an easy process when they come in and sometimes it’s a little bit more complicated but at the end of the day, we can and will help them through the process.”

The Lutrinae: What information do students need to come into the financial aid office for help?

McCallon: “They need their photo ID or their student ID number, the one that starts with an eight or a zero.”

The Lutrinae: How many students on campus receive financial aid?

Fuentes: “We’re at, I’m going to say, close to 83% of our students, here on campus, receive some sort of financial aid whether it’s federal, state, or scholarships. It’s a very high percentage. The volume that comes through here [financial aid office] whether its a phone call, in person, an email or what not- it’s a lot.”

The Lutrinae: Anything else students should know about the financial aid office?

McCallon: “Starting this year, we actually have a FAFSA app. Students are able to fill out their FAFSA on an iPad, tablet, or iPhone now. They have actually made it a lot easier, and more user friendly for students. I believe they hadn’t changed the FAFSA application in at least 15-20 years prior to this. They finally got on board and it’s finally user friendly and it’s not so overwhelming. Before, they used to list all of the questions on one page and I think that as a first time student filling out the FAFSA, that is very overwhelming, and now it is just one question per screen which is very nice. They also have it now that you can log in as either the parent or the student which will bypass all the student information and take you straight to the parent section, for parents. It’s a lot more user friendly.”

Fuentes: “Another thing along with that is this is our third year where our early submission is in act. Prior to our early submission started, no one could submit a FAFSA before the January 1 date. Now anyone can submit their financial aid applications starting October 1, although our deadline has not changed. Our deadline is still March 2, which is a big change. Another thing is linking their IRS tax returns to the FAFSA which will make the process a lot smoother and a whole lot quicker.”

McCallon: “Right around the corner, which is actually lined up with the FAFSA October 1 deadline, we are opening up our CSUMB Scholarship. The application is one application that applies for over 60 different scholarships here at CSUMB, instead of filling out one for your major and one for the dorms, or whatever it might be. It is just one application. It requires two letters of recommendation, so we recommend students start to reach out to their professors now, then their unofficial transcripts, and the written statement. This is for the ‘19-’20 aid year starting October 1.”

Fuentes: “And the last thing I wanted to say is it’s never too late. There are students out there who haven’t applied for financial aid and it’s not too late for them to apply. I highly recommend that they do because there are times that students don’t even know that they are eligible for anything and they apply and they find out they are eligible and they are able to receive aid. We can’t help retroactively, but we can help now and for the future.”

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