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Title IV aid helps students pursue higher ed

By Jessica Hoyle | Pulse staff reporter

Financial AidMillions of dollars in Financial Aid are allocated to college students across the country, and some students aren’t spending that money on school.

Many college students apply for Financial Aid, and those who are approved are sometimes rewarded with more than they need.

Palo Alto College Freshman Marisa Alvarado admitted to spending some of her Financial Aid on things unrelated to school during her first semester.

“I went out and got a tattoo,” said Alvarado. “Other than that, I haven’t touched my Financial Aid mone."

The Alamo Colleges now provide the ALAMOCash Card to students who have a credit balance after all tuition and fees have been paid from the student’s account. The ALAMOCash Card can be used at any merchant displaying the Discover logo, and cash withdrawals are free of charge at any of the ALAMOCash ATMs located at all of the Alamo College campuses.

Students are spending their Financial Aid money on things other than tuition and books. Vicente Ocampo, a full-time freshman at PAC, said he spends his money on gas, food and his vehicle.

“I bought a laptop,” said Ocampo.

A laptop can be seen as a school-related expense and as something that can help a student with schoolwork and note-taking.

Most students fill out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Depending on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward their education, Pell grants are awarded. The lower the EFC, the higher the Pell grant.

College Sophomore Kandice Fambro applied for Financial Aid but did not qualify.

“I missed the cutoff by $200,” Fambro said.

A Pell Grant is one form of Financial Aid and is distributed depending on the student’s financial need, the cost to attend school, and their status as a full-time or part-time student. If approved, the amount of money a student will receive is dependent upon the number of course hours the student is taking.

Palo Alto College Associate Director of Student Financial Services Shirley Leija said, “All Title IV aid (Pell, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work Study, and Direct Loans) may be approved if you enroll for less than full time...Remember, Pell is based on EFC, and some EFC may not be Pell eligible.”

Full-time Freshman Yanira Escolero said she received extra money from Financial Aid, but she used hers on software for her computer to make for a better experience at school. She is very thankful for the money she received from the government.

“It helps a lot for when you can’t afford that much tuition. They give a good amount for it being a federal grant. It’s better than nothing,” said Escolero.

Palo Alto College Sophomore Jill Bazan received her Financial Aid in the form of her GI Bill from the Air Force

“My Financial Aid (GI Bill) is something I actually earned and put money towards while I was in the Air Force,” said Bazan. “A college education is not a right, nor is it something to be handed out like candy to every person. It should be earned. And if a person needs some help, then by all means apply for some Financial Aid. But the Financial Aid shouldn’t be abused.”