TCU Daily Skiff Orientation Issue 2004
Frog Fountain
Financial aid looks beyond just GPAs

By Jacob Martin
Skiff Staff

In a society that has changed dramatically since the days when returning World War II veterans enjoyed the benefits of the G.I. Bill, which allowed them to attend college, the importance of financial aid has grown.

For many families, the availability of scholarships and grants determine whether children can go to college. Most colleges and universities in the United States have financial aid offices that exist to administer necessary paperwork, and assist students in applying for various financial resources.

The first step in obtaining financial aid is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid required for federal, state or private funding. Kathryn Blackham, a TCU financial aid counselor, said students should visit the FAFSA Web site to find information about filling out forms and eligibility.

The FAFSA Web site provides specific information about gifts and other forms of federal aid and links to sites that provide information about hundreds of local and national scholarships.

Blackham said the criteria used to determine eligibility for funding include income, assets, the age of parents, the number of children living at home or in college and the estimated contribution of parents toward the college education. Lower incomes, more children in the family and parents closer to the retirement age are more likely to be eligible for most forms of aid. This process has also changed with the times.

“It is interesting that they now look at a family’s assets,” Mary Hall said. “Twenty years ago when I was at TCU my Parents’, both schoolteachers, complained that they could not get financial aid because their money was not tied up in ‘yachts.’ Although I was able to receive a scholarship to play cello at TCU, my solidly middle class parents made too much money to qualify for grants and other types of government aid.”

Lower income students are eligible for Pell Grants and others that are needs based. Texas has a tuition equalization program and many schools offer academic scholarships. Privately-funded aid is often granted based on criteria developed by the donor, such as those contingent on the area of study or the student’s ethnic or racial background.

“Schools look at GPAs, extra-curricular activity, test scores and the need of the family,” Blackham said.

There are dozens of Web sites that assist students in searching out financial aid such as, she said, and TCU has a book that helps students find funding sources.

Andrew Ulrich, a sophomore premajor said he was able to obtain an academic scholarship because he had a good high school GPA, good SAT scores and was in the top 35 of his graduating class.

Both Ulrich and Craig Stopa, sophomore chemistry and premed major, said the process was time consuming and they completed the paperwork early, before or as they applied to TCU.

Ulrich said he would probably have been able to attend TCU even without the scholarship but was proud of the work he did in high school.It “gives me a goal academically to work for as you have to have a certain GPA to keep it,” Ulrich said.

“Without the financial aid that TCU gave me, I probably would not have come here,” Stopa said. “I was really glad that I got the help because I really wanted to come to TCU.”

Hall said that a lot of money is available.

“Some of it sits for years because students do not know about it,” Hall said. “My children are 12, 9 and 5 but college is not that far away. We will start looking on the Internet and contacting schools when my daughter is a sophomore or junior in high school.”

Students interested in financial aid should call the financial aid office at (817) 257-7858 (1-800-TCU-FROG outside Tarrant County) or visit the Web site at FAFSA Web site is
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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