By Ginger Livingston
Monday, February 24, 2014
As high school seniors begin to receive college acceptance letters, some eastern North Carolina parents are torn between pride and concern.
Cindy Laurin, whose daughter, Rebekah, is a senior at South Central High School, said she is proud Rebekah wants to “further her education and continue on.”
But like a lot of families, the Laurins have found it difficult to save for a college education.
“It’s the economy we’ve been living in,” Cindy Laurin said. “It’s taken every little bit to survive.”
That is why the Laurins — along with many other local families — are looking at financial aid to help manage expenses.
Saturday, college financial aid experts from East Carolina University and Pitt Community College gathered at Joyner Library and several State Employees’ Credit Union locations to help families complete financial aid documents during the annual FAFSA Day.
FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the form all students have to complete to qualify for federal grant, work study and loan assistance.
The form is complex and requires detailed financial information, so institutions across the state sponsor an event where counselors offer families assistance.
“It’s a little intimidating, the process. We want to make it smooth for them,” said Maryann Jenkins, ECU’s associate director of financial aid.
Along with students qualifying for federal financial aid, North Carolina uses the application to qualify students for state assistance, Jenkins said.
The estimated cost of attendance for a North Carolina resident working on an undergraduate degree at ECU this year is $20,846; a resident commuter student’s cost is $17,874, according to the university’s financial aid website.
Rebekah Laurin hopes to reduce that cost by attending a nursing program jointly operated by ECU and Pitt Community College.
If she is accepted, Rebekah will spend her first couple of years studying at PCC. If she meets the academic requirements, she will be guaranteed a spot in ECU’s undergraduate nursing program.
Acceptance in the program will save her about $10,000 a year, her mother said.
Cindy Laurin said she wants to find every bit of financial assistance she can for her daughter. With this in mind, the Laurins attended the FAFSA event on Saturday.
The Laurins first thought they would complete the financial aid application at home, but decided getting a little extra help could not hurt.
“We wanted to make sure we filled it out right,” Rebekah Laurin said.
“And we did have questions and they were helpful,” Cindy Laurin said.
Kelly Stocks, also a South Central senior, is the first of Cynthia and Reginald Stocks’ children to attend college. She is waiting for an acceptance letter from her school of choice.
The Stocks said they knew their daughter’s best chance of securing financial aid was to fill out the forms as soon as possible.
“We want to get everything situated so she can get in,” Cynthia Stocks said.
There is not a lot of financial assistance available, so the family was advised to work with the counselors to tap every resource available, Cynthia Stocks said.
“This is our first time (applying for financial aid) so it was a great opportunity to have some assistance so you can understand the ins and outs,” Reginald Stocks said.
“You always want your child to have opportunities you didn’t have, and you want them to take full advantage of them,” he said.
Jenkins said that while FAFSA Day only is held once a year, other assistance is available to families seeking financial aid.
Individuals can call the financial aid offices at ECU and PCC and ask questions, she said. They also can call the FAFSA phone line at 866-866-2362, Option 2, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Tuesday.
Information also is available at CFNC.org.
Contact Ginger Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9570.