By Jana Shogren, Director of Resource Development & CLC Foundation, and Mike Barnaby, Director of Financial Aid
At Central Lakes College, we want our students to be successful! It’s why we are here and our No. 1 goal. So when paying for college is a barrier for some of our students, we work hard to make sure finances don’t prevent someone from pursuing their educational dreams. Here are some important things to remember when considering college.
First, there is a lot of help out there. Our college is 81 years old and for about 51 of those years we’ve been awarding scholarships to students through the CLC Foundation. Today, we have more than 200 scholarship funds, which help us award about $380,000 a year to deserving students. (Remember, scholarships are funds you don’t have to pay back!)
These scholarships are for every type of student, from non-traditional to traditional student right out of high school, or from a straight-A student to someone with average grades, and everywhere in between. Lesson one: Don’t count yourself out! Apply for scholarships. Our process is really simple – some basic info and three simple questions that automatically match you to scholarships you qualify for. The application process closes Nov. 1 for spring semester. So if you are going to be a student in spring 2020, head on over to our website and apply.
Tanner, a current CLC student, had this to say about his scholarship award, “This generous award makes it possible for me to focus more on my classes, therefore allowing me to get the most out of my college education. Scholarships like this make it possible for students like me to put more of our attention towards our education and to get the best outcome for our time spent here.”
If you are a high school student, we really recommend looking toward your high school for other possible scholarships. Ask a counselor for help.
The second important thing to remember when considering college is financial aid is available to help pay your educational related costs. Grants are a form of aid that you don’t have to pay back. For those who qualify, CLC historically gives out approximately $9 million in grant types of funding to qualifying students each year. We also have a work-study program, where student earn a wage working at the college or at a non-profit organization. With this option, you can earn money to help support your education.
Finally, there are loans (which you do have to pay back). You apply for grants, loans and work-study through the Free Application for federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
All of this may be a lot to take in, but don’t worry. We’re here to help. One cool service the CLC Financial Aid office provides is help completing the FAFSA. If you’re having trouble applying or just need some questions answered, come in and we will guide you through the process. This service is available weekdays from 8a.m. – 3p.m.
CLC is really built for students who need help. We are there as a community college to make sure that they will be successful students. Another way we do that is through our food pantry (there is one on each campus!) and through the Student Support Fund, which serves as an emergency fund. Sometimes our students have unexpected expenses come up (like a dead car battery or costly repair) that might otherwise prevent them from attending classes. That’s where this fund comes in, covering the bill so the student can worry about what’s really important: Their education.
We’re also going outside the box on ways to pay for college. New this semester is the BrightFutures scholarship, which went to Brainerd High School graduates who were on the free or reduced lunch program at the high school. Fifteen students, through a combination of federal, state and BrightFutures funding sources, are receiving free tuition and general fees, plus a $500 book stipend.
You may have heard of our Workforce Development Scholarships, which are currently helping 26 students at CLC with a $2,500 award each. These funds were secured through the State Legislature. We hope to award more of those in the future, so stay tuned for the application call!
President Hara Charlier said it best: “Students come to us with many different backgrounds, experiences, and challenges. As a college, we are seeking ways better serve the community and most importantly, our students. Finding ways to make college more affordable is just one way we do this; it’s a vital to improve access to education for these talented students.”
We are helping families all the time with the financial aid process. Thinking about attending next fall? Apply for financial aid now!