Financing A Future

Approximately 20 area families have come away from Jamestown Community College with a better idea of how to go about the process of funding their future college students’ educations.

An information session was administered at the college Wednesday evening in order to provide high school seniors and their parents with general information to help them with the college application process.

The information session – entitled “Fund Your Future” – was presented through the collaboration of JCC and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. Attendees were acquainted with the various timelines, loans, application forms and online resources associated with securing financial aid for college-bound students – as well as Community Foundation scholarships and their application processes.

According to Lisa Lynde, program officer for the Community Foundation, the “Fund Your Future” program is intended to provide a more personal approach to the learning process as it relates to financial aid.

“Right now, a lot of people get their information from the Internet. Unfortunately, we find that there are fewer folks that come to these types of programs,” Lynde said. “A lot of parents and students are getting the information from websites and guidance counselors, but we want to have the opportunity for one-on-one interaction with people to let them know that we are interested in getting the word out.”

“(Community Foundation) donors have entrusted us with funds, and want us to make sure that money is given out to the students,” she continued. “So, having the opportunity to come out for the ‘Fund Your Future’ event is important to us, and to our donors, so we can let people know that we’re available.”

The bulk of the information presented to attendees was given by Laurie Vorp, executive director of student finance and records for JCC. Vorp’s presentation touched on a number of topics, including: various costs associated with being a college student, analysis of financial needs, financial aid categories and sources, federal funds and loans, state funds, institutional aid, college payment plans and a listing of online resources.

Vorp also discussed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form at length. She encouraged every family to fill it out for at least the first year, regardless of income level, and to read instructions carefully to make sure they have filled out the form correctly.

Vorp said she keeps the information within the “Fund Your Future” sessions relatively basic to ensure that everybody understands the general financial aid application requirements.

“From our perspective, it’s not a real difficult application but it’s new information for families,” Vorp said. “We all learn in different ways but, for the first-time family, having somebody to answer questions can be very helpful. There’s too much to cover in just one presentation in one evening, but, hopefully, they’ll have the resources they need in order to make informed decisions about paying for college and the impact that may have on where a student chooses to go to college.”

During her presentation, Vorp also stressed the benefits of applying for scholarships. She recommended that each family spend at least one hour per week applying for scholarships, saying that a student who receives a $250 scholarship after 10 hours of applying has essentially earned $25 per hour.

“That’s a good rate of return,” she said.

Students and their families listen Wednesday night at Jamestown Community College as Lisa Lynde, program officer for the Community Foundation, pictured below right, and Laurie Vorp, executive director of student finance and records for JCC, pictured below left, discuss the process of funding a college education.

P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti