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.

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!

Use PUC’s Net Price Calculator!

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Worried about affording college? Find out what you may qualify for!

Did you know 100 percent of PUC’s traditional undergraduate students receive financial aid? Last year, over $40 million was awarded to our 1,600 students based not only on merit, but leadership, Christian service, and much more. See a full list of PUC scholarships at puc.edu/scholarships.

PUC is committed to making a high-quality Christ-centered education possible. To find out how much aid you may qualify for, use our net price calculator to receive a preliminary estimate of your aid eligibility, including grants, loans, and PUC scholarships.

It takes less than 10 minutes—start now!

Five Financial Things You Can Do Now

The fall is always a busy time of year for high school students (and their parents!) as they finish their college applications and start to work on determining how much financial aid they’re eligible for. This year in particular can be stressful, with new changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), more information about which can be found at puc.edu/financeresources. The following is a short list to help keep you on track now that FAFSA has opened—it’s time to get ready for next year!

Apply to college

  • If you haven’t already, apply to PUC at puc.edu/apply
  • Be sure to list your Social Security Number so PUC can access your FAFSA
  • Send in your transcripts and one letter of reference

Submit the FAFSA
(Starting October 1)

  • Get your FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov, which will serve as your legal signature when you submit the FAFSA; your parents should get one too
  • Start your FAFSA at fafsa.gov—have income information from the previous tax year available to refer back to
  • Be sure to include PUC’s school code (001258) to have your data sent to PUC
  • List at least one in-state college, otherwise you may be ineligible to apply for Cal Grant (CA residents only)
  • Sign your FAFSA with both your FSA ID and your parent’s ID; keep proof of completion

Submit a GPA verification form to the California Student Aid Commission
(
March 2 deadline)

  • Both this form (available at csac.ca.gov) and your FAFSA are required by March 2 to apply for Cal Grant (CA residents only)
  • Be sure to get proof of mailing from the Post Office

Talk with a PUC financial counselor

Search for scholarships

  • See what PUC offers at puc.edu/scholarships (March 2 deadline)
  • A helpful list of external scholarship websites is available at puc.edu/outsidescholarships
  • Don’t limit your search to just online; check local organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, and your chamber of commerce to see what they offer
  • Ask your PUC financial counselor for ideas of where else to look

Your PUC Financial Checklist

There are several resources available to your family while you navigate the process of paying for a Christian college education. The Finance page of our Admissions website has examples of financial aid package, tips for finding your bottom line, and other helpful information. Our blog has a Finance section full of useful tips for college finances, including several lists of outside scholarships available to high school seniors from sites like Fastweb and more.

The Student Financial Services office at PUC also has Financial Counselors available by email or phone if you need help with anything related to finances. Feel free to email studentfinance@puc.edu or call 800-862-7080, option 1 if you have questions.

Below is a short financial checklist to help keep your family on track as you make plans for college.

  1. Start by filling out PUC’s Financial Aid Application. This basic form is needed to verify certain information that is not on the FAFSA.
  2. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine how much federal aid you’re eligible for, including grants and loans. PUC’s FAFSA code is 001258. Pro tip: If you (or your parents) haven’t done your taxes yet, you can use estimated numbers to submit the FAFSA, and update the application later once once you have filed your taxes.
  3. Once our Student Finance office has this information, they will start working on putting together a personalized financial aid estimate for you, which will show approximately how much per month it would cost for you to attend PUC.
  4. Talk with your Financial Counselor if you have any questions about your estimate and whether your family needs more aid.

If you have questions about what you can be working on when it comes to college finances, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Student Financial Services office!

Editor’s note: This is dated material and does not necessarily reflect how the student financial services office at PUC and the financial process currently operates. Please contact your financial counselor for more information.