A Conversation with Freddy Whiteside, Director of Student Financial Services

Freddy Whiteside has been serving Pacific Union College students in the office of student financial services for eight years, and in February of this year, he stepped into his new role as director. “The best part of what I do,” he says, “is interacting with the students and finding additional financial aid options for them whenever I can.”

One of the most common questions Freddy hears from students and their families is, “Can I afford a private school?” This is, obviously, a growing concern in the U.S., and Freddy’s job is to ensure the answer to that question in reference to PUC is a resounding, “Yes!”

What is one piece of financial aid advice you would give all high school students?

Treat your GPA like it’s money because it is.

What do you think is the most underutilized financial aid resource?

Without question, it’s contacting businesses directly about private scholarships. Most people don’t realize this is an option, but it absolutely is!

What’s something about financial aid at PUC people might be surprised to learn?

Every single student who attends PUC qualifies for financial aidthis means 100 percent of the student body qualifies for financial aid!

What are some of the most important deadlines when it comes to applying for student scholarships or financial aid?

March 2 is the Cal Grant deadline. You must have your FAFSA and the GPA verification form done by this date.

How can I work out a payment plan?

PUC has a nine-month payment plan and it runs from September to May. We also have a twelve-month payment plan which starts in June, before school starts, and goes through to May. Arrangements for these plans can be made with our office.

Is the investment in college is worth it?

Take a moment to consider this: The difference between a high school diploma and a college degree is now $1.5 million in earning potential.

What kind of campus or local jobs are available for me to make money to help with tuition?

PUC currently employs hundreds of students in various departments across campus. In these roles, students have the opportunity to earn money that can go directly to their student account. Additionally, there are various jobs available in the surrounding valley that are a perfect fit for college student schedules, if an off-campus job is preferred. The student employment office can answer questions about these options. (Editor’s note: Visit the Student Employment page on our website or email stuemployment@puc.edu for more information)

How do I apply for financial aid?

Students can apply for financial aid by visiting fafsa.gov in addition to visiting puc.edu/scholarships, where they can find all the forms they’ll need to apply directly to PUC for aid. I would also encourage students to contact their local church and conference regarding scholarships.

How much access to my financial records do my parents have?

Parents have no access to their student’s financial records without consent. Students are required to fill out a consent form which allows other individuals (such as parents or grandparents) to view their financial aid.

What if I want to study abroad while I’m here? How does that affect my financial aid status?

If a student decides they want to study abroad, they would still qualify for financial aid. It does not affect their aid status at all, so long as they follow the outlined steps to communicate with the appropriate departments about their plans.

What happens if my financial situation changes mid-year?

If this happens, we have the ability to revise a student’s FAFSA based on their current financial situation. They could potentially qualify for additional financial aid, based on the circumstances.

Does PUC offer renewable scholarships?

Yes, PUC has many four-year guaranteed scholarships. Please check out the website at puc.edu/scholarships for a list of available renewable scholarships.

What is the #1 website you would recommend to parents who might be overwhelmed by the financial aid process or are going through it for the first time?

I actually have three websites I like to recommend: #1 studentloans.gov: This is a government website that focuses on student loan debt, however, they have a lot of great resources about paying for college. #2 finaid.org: They cover everything from student loans, scholarships, grants and more. They also have advice on ways to save for college. #3 fastweb.com: This is a website for scholarships, internships, and career advice.

To connect with Freddy and his team of financial counselors to discuss your financial situation, email studentfinance@puc.edu or call (800) 862-7080, option 1.

Five Tips for Finding Money to Pay for College

Does thinking about how you’re going to pay for college make you feel overwhelmed? This blog post is for you!

When looking at potential colleges, seeing the overall cost probably makes you want to give up. It’s completely understandable, but keep in mind nobody pays that sticker price. This is where grants, scholarships, and loans come in.

Scholarships can substantially lower the price families pay for a college education, and the great part about them is it’s money you don’t have to pay back. PUC offers many scholarships that can help, but the reality is we can’t always provide as much financial aid as some students and families might need. Don’t worry, though! It’s estimated there is close to $50 billion in grants and scholarship money available in just the United States alone, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to start your scholarship search.

Start Looking Online

A lot of students worry they won’t receive any scholarships if they don’t have a 4.0 GPA. This simply isn’t true! Scholarships aren’t just for students with a high GPA. There are non-academic scholarships available based on your major of interest, leadership involvement, extracurricular activities, community service, and more. There are even some fun scholarships, such as the Create-a-Greeting Card scholarship (worth $10,000), for which applicants submit a design for a greeting card; the Vegetarian Resource Group scholarship (worth $10,000), for which applicants need to have demonstrated “compassion, courage, and a strong commitment to promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle”; and the Tall Clubs International, Inc. scholarship (worth $1,000), which is available to male applicants at least 6’2” and female applicants at least  5’10” and who write an essay on the subject of “What Being Tall Means to Me.” Perhaps the most famous college scholarship is the Stuck at Prom scholarship (worth $10,000), for which students compete by making outfits entirely out of Duck brand duct tape to wear to prom.

These sites are a great starting point for your college scholarship search:

  • Fastweb: Fastweb is considered to be the premier scholarship website with over 1.5 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.
  • Niche: This website lists over 3.2 million scholarships and also allows you to create a profile to be personally matched to scholarships you may be eligible for.
  • Unigo: This website lists over 3.6 million scholarships.

Also, check out our extensive list of scholarship sites at puc.edu/outsidescholarships.

Think Locally Too

Take a look around your community for scholarship opportunitiesyou might be surprised at what you find in your area. Your local Rotary Club or Kiwanis International Club may offer college scholarships, as could your chamber of commerce. Other businesses and community groups could provide college scholarships as well. Your high school guidance counselor may also have ideas of where you can look nearby for scholarships. One big advantage of applying for local scholarships is there’s far less competition for them than there are for state or national scholarshipsyou have a greater chance at receiving them! Remember to check with your church too.

Write One Good Essay

Obviously, you’re going to need to write more than just one essay when applying for scholarships, but you can probably use certain parts of an essay more than once. Have the basicsyour career goals, personal statement, and academic career thus farperfected, as you will likely use that information repeatedly. These essays could determine whether or not you’re awarded a great deal of money, so it’s worth spending time on them to make sure you present yourself well.

Put the Time In

The internet can be both a blessing and a curse. There’s a wealth of information available right at your fingertips, but there are also countless distractions that can quickly take you down a rabbit hole. Before you know it, you’ve spent two hours taking BuzzFeed quizzes and not doing what you intended to do. Treat applying for college scholarships as though it was your job try spending an hour each day or at least several hours a week searching and applying for scholarships. The time you put in could make all the difference in receiving thousands of dollars!

Don’t Forget About the FAFSA

One of the most important things you can do is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov. The FAFSA is a form you will submit each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. Starting October 1, 2018, you can submit your FAFSA and have your information sent to the 10 colleges you’re interested in. Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible since some aid is awarded on a first-come, first served basis. To have your FAFSA sent to PUC, make sure you include PUC’s school codeit’s 001258.

Filling out the FAFSA also potentially qualifies you for a Pell Grant, which is a subsidy from the U.S. federal government, and is something you don’t have to pay back. Amounts can change each year, but for the 2018-2019 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,095.

According to a study by NerdWallet, in 2014 U.S. high school graduates left a whopping $2.9 billion in free federal grant money on the table just by not completing the FAFSA, which made them ineligible for a Pell Grant. In our great state of California, over 100,000 seniors could have potentially qualified for Pell Grants if they had filed their FAFSA, but as a result, they lost $396,401,205. Are you seeing how critical it can be for you to take the time to fill out the FAFSA yet?

There’s a lot to keep track of when applying for scholarships and other financial aid. At PUC, we have a team of financial aid counselors ready to help if you have questions about scholarships and how to make college affordable for your family. Call (800) 862-7080, option 1 or email studentfinance@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor today.

Why You Should Take the ACT or SAT, Maybe Even Twice

Registering to take and then studying for the ACT or SAT can seem very daunting. However, taking one or both of these is a very important step on your way to college. Many colleges have score requirements for admission and while PUC doesn’t require a specific score for acceptance, there are some big reasons to take them and score well!

Note: PUC accepts both the ACT and the SAT. To have your test scores sent to PUC, make sure you include PUC’s school code; 0362 for ACT and 4600 for SAT.

You need them to register for classes

A little different than most state and public schools, PUC doesn’t require test scores for admission for first-time college students, with a few exceptions. However, you still need to submit test scores for placement into Math and English classes, so it is something you will have to turn in eventually when you register for classes in the spring.

For transfer students, test scores are only required for students who have not successfully taken the equivalent to College Algebra or English 101.

Learn more about PUC’s admissions requirements.

You could earn a scholarship

PUC uses test scores for several scholarships for incoming freshmen, including the Maxwell scholarship, the college’s most prestigious scholarship; and the President’s, Dean’s, Trustee’s, and Founder’s scholarships. Each of these scholarships requires a certain GPA and a certain test score range and is potentially worth a great deal of money, from $36,000 all the way up to $112,000. It’s definitely a wise decision to make sure you take time to adequately prepare for the ACT or SAT since the better you score, the higher the scholarship you’re eligible for.

Learn more about PUC’s scholarships.

Retaking it could result in a higher scholarship

With the fall just getting started, there’s still plenty of time to take either test or retake one if you aren’t satisfied with your score. Taking a standardized test twice might not sound like the most fun since it’s several hours of your time, but it can be worth it since there’s serious scholarship money available for students who do well on these tests. It can be the difference between earning thousands of dollars more if you can significantly increase your score. If you took the ACT but didn’t do well, it may even be worth trying the SAT to see if that results in a higher score.

Learn more about the ACTs, including registration deadlines and fees.

Learn more about the SATs, including registration deadlines and fees.

Our team of admissions counselors is ready to help if you have questions about applying to PUC! Call our office at (800) 862-7080, option 2 Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. to get connected with a counselor. You can also email admissions@puc.edu.

Using PUC’s Net Price Calculator

Worried about affording college? PUC’s net price calculator is a quick way to find out how much aid you may qualify for!

Did you know 100 percent of PUC’s traditional undergraduate students receive financial aid? Last year, over $30 million was awarded to our 1,250 students based not only on merit (which means grades + test scores), but leadership, Christian service, and much more. You can see a full list of PUC scholarships at puc.edu/scholarships.

PUC is committed to making a high-quality Christ-centered education possible. We know it can be both overwhelming and frustrating to try to figure out how much it could cost for you to attend a college, which is why we have a net price calculator that can help give you an approximate idea of what PUC costs. Using the calculator will also give you a preliminary estimate of your aid eligibility, including grants, loans, and PUC scholarships.

You will be asked basic information, such as when you intend to start at PUC, if your parents work for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, whether you have a sibling that will be attending PUC at the same time, if you will be studying a specific major that offers a scholarship, and if you’ve held a leadership position during your junior or senior year, among other similar questions. It’s helpful if you know your current GPA, and if you’ve taken either the ACT or SAT, make sure you have those scores on hand too.

For your estimate to be as accurate as possible, it’s also a good idea to work with your parents to have your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) already completed so you can input that information as well. The FAFSA is a form you will fill out each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. Starting October 1, 2018, you can submit your FAFSA and have your information sent to the 10 colleges you’re interested in. To have your FAFSA sent to PUC, make sure you include PUC’s school codeit’s 001258.

Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which will show your potential eligibility for different types of financial aid as well as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. (Note: Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Learn more at studentaid.ed.gov.)

If you have the necessary information on hand, it takes less than 10 minutes—start using PUC’s net price calculator now!

Remember, these results are just the starting point and might not show all the aid you may qualify for, which is why we always recommend talking with a PUC financial counselor to carefully go over them. Email studentfinance@puc.edu or call (800) 862-7080, option 1 to get in touch with a counselor now.  

Take Just One Hour and File Your FAFSA

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for college is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an online form you will submit each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. This year, for the first time, you can also complete it on your phone. The U.S. Department of Education has created a mobile-friendly version on its website or it can be filled out using its new myStudentAid app.

Starting today, October 1, 2018, you can file your FAFSA and have your information sent to up to 10 colleges you’re considering. Make sure to file FAFSA as soon as possible since some aid is awarded on a first-come, first served basis. To have your FAFSA information sent to PUC, include PUC’s school codeit’s 001258.

According to the FAQs on the FAFSA website, it takes most people less than an hour to complete a FAFSA for the first time, which includes taking time to gather the necessary documents, completing and reviewing the application, and reading the important information on the “Confirmation” page you’ll receive after signing and submitting the FAFSA. Nothing should stop you from taking one hour to do this incredibly important step in the college financial aid process!

Filing the FAFSA also potentially qualifies you for a Pell Grant, which is a subsidy from the U.S. federal government, and is something you don’t have to pay back. Amounts can change each year, but for the 2018-2019 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,095.

According to a study by NerdWallet, in 2014 U.S. high school graduates left a whopping $2.9 billion in free federal grant money on the table just by not completing the FAFSA, which made them ineligible for a Pell Grant. In our great state of California, over 100,000 seniors would have qualified for Pell Grants if they had filed their FAFSA, but as a result, they lost $396,401,205. See how critical it can be for you to take the time to do the FAFSA?

Based on your FAFSA information, our team of financial counselors can determine how much financial aid you are eligible for and create a personalized financial aid estimate for you where you can see how much per month it would cost to attend PUC. It’s incredibly helpful and absolutely an essential thing for you to have when making a decision about where to attend college.

Well, what are you waiting for? Start your FAFSA now at fafsa.gov!

PUC Offers Exciting New Scholarship Opportunities

Pacific Union College is proud to announce two new scholarship opportunities available to students entering Fall 2018; the STEM Scholarship and the Campus Impact Scholarship. Recognizing the financial difficulties families face when planning for college, PUC has strengthened its commitment to make a Seventh-day Adventist liberal arts education accessible and affordable to all admitted students.

PUC’s new STEM Scholarship recognizes first-time freshmen who have obtained a strong understanding of and competence in advanced mathematics and science during high school. Recipients must have completed three years of college preparatory laboratory courses (biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy & physiology) and three years of college preparatory math courses (intermediate/advanced algebra, pre-calculus, calculus, geometry, and statistics) to receive the $1,000 renewable award. (Please see scholarship guidelines for specific requirements and details.)

The Campus Impact Scholarship is a $1,000 renewable scholarship available to students who are invited to participate in PUC’s orchestra, wind ensemble, iCantori, or octet, or are selected for specific roles in campus ministries or CONNECT outreach. These awards are renewable upon continued participation in the specific programs.

In addition, amounts for many existing scholarships have been increased, including the President’s and Dean’s Scholarships for both transfer and first-year students. These scholarships are automatically received by qualifying incoming students, based upon GPA and/or test scores.

Other scholarship changes include transfer student eligibility for the Legacy Scholarship, a renewable $1,500 scholarship awarded to students with a parent or legal guardian who attended a minimum of two years or graduated from PUC.

The qualifications for the Mostert Christian Leader Scholarship have changed as well, which now awards a maximum of $2,000 to incoming freshmen who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their schools, churches, or communities during their junior and/or senior years of high school. This includes student association officers, junior and senior class officers, and athletic team captain. Award applies to freshman year only.

“Making college affordable has never been more important. As a parent of two college-bound daughters, I personally understand the financial challenges families are facing,” said Jennifer Tyner, vice president of enrollment management and marketing. “PUC is working very hard to make an Adventist college education possible and creating more opportunities for students to succeed in their professional goals.”

Last year, PUC awarded students over $40 million in financial aid. To learn more about all of PUC’s scholarship opportunities, application criteria, and to apply, visit puc.edu/scholarships or call (800) 862-7080, option 1.

PUC Releases Financial Aid Workshops Dates

Pacific Union College will host 16 financial aid workshops across Northern California and Hawaii, in a special collaboration with La Sierra University, during October and November. For the first time, the college will also be holding several online workshops throughout the fall.

The goal of these workshops is to provide families with the critical information they need to help finance a quality, Christ-centered college education. Topics to be covered include PUC scholarships, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Cal Grant, and other scholarship and aid opportunities.

“PUC understands how critical finances can be for families when planning for college, which is why we strive to offer as much assistance and information as possible through our financial aid workshops. I want to personally invite anyone considering PUC to attend a workshop so we can discuss how we can make an Adventist education possible for your family,” says J.R. Rogers, director of recruitment. “Traditionally, we held these events in January and February, but we’ve moved them up to assist families with college financial planning.”

Workshop dates are as follows:

October 2 – Mountain View Academy
October 4 – Lodi Academy
October 9 – Redwood Adventist Academy
October 10 – El Dorado Adventist School
October 11 – Paradise Adventist Academy
October 17 – Armona Union Academy
October 18 – Fresno Adventist Academy
October 19 – Bakersfield Adventist Academy
October 23 – Central Valley Christian Academy
October 24 – Pine Hills Adventist Academy
October 25 – Napa Christian Campus of Education; PUC Prep School
October 28 – Monterey Bay Academy*
October 30 – Sacramento Adventist Academy
November 2 – Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy
November 13 – Hawaiian Mission Academy*
November 18 – Rio Lindo Adventist Academy*

*Please note, all workshops will be held at 7:00 p.m. with the exception of Monterey Bay Academy, Rio Lindo Academy, and Hawaiian Mission Academy; these workshops will be held at 6:30 p.m.

Joint financial aid workshops hosted by La Sierra University will also be held in Southern California and Arizona. For more information, visit puc.edu/workshops. The first online financial workshop will be September 12. Information about additional dates will be forthcoming.

Last year, PUC awarded students over $40 million in financial aid. To learn more about all of PUC’s scholarship and grant opportunities, and to apply, visit puc.edu/scholarships or call (800) 862-7080, option 1.