aid looks beyond just GPAs
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
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
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 familys
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 students ethnic or racial background.
Schools look at GPAs, extra-curricular activity,
test scores and the need of the family, Blackham
There are dozens of Web sites that assist students in
searching out financial aid such as fastweb.com, 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
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 www.fam.tcu.edu.
FAFSA Web site is www.fafsa.ed.gov.