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Financial aid provides student opportunities

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Everything in today’s world costs money. From club shirts to school lunch, the expenses of life are high and come up more often than we think. Since all families’ financial situations are different, it is not easy to stand in another student’s shoes and understand the impact their financial situation has on their life.

Some students, depending on their financial situation, may need to apply for need-based aid, a scholarship that takes into consideration a family’s financial situation, as well as a student’s academic or athletic standing. Receiving need-based aid at South can include programs like free or reduced lunch. For college, the ability to apply for need-based aid through Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) and Questbridge— whose deadline has, as of this year, passed, but will be available for rising seniors — is also based on the net worth of the family.

With all the different types of need-based aid available students are eligible to receive a varying amount of aid.

Need-Based Aid at South

Due to the confusion of financial aid, the Oracle Editorial Board strongly encourages all students who think they need financial help at school to talk with a trusted teacher, dean, counselor or other administrator. This ensures that all students will receive the necessary financial aid throughout their time at high school and beyond.

South’s ability to help students through funding is a way to ensure students feel integrated into the community.

In doing so, the financial aid is split into sectors. Free and reduced services typically cover books, field trips and lunch but not extracurriculars or athletics. A club might have funding in it’s club fund to help pay for part of a student’s fee for a conference or other form of trips; however, this service is one that must be asked for.

Senior Nurul Hana Mohammed-Rafee has been receiving financial aid since sophomore year and feels that it has significantly lifted the burden from her family.

“There was a lot that I wouldn’t ask my parents for freshman year that I could [ask for] sophomore year, like [to] go on classroom field trips,” Mohammed-Rafee said. “Sometimes [field trips were] like 20 dollars and I would have to ask my parents [for the money…] and then I would feel bad for asking, but [now] financial aid covers the field trips.”

Lara Cummings. assistant principal of student services, and Dr. Jim Shellard, assistant principal of student activities, both state that they want a student’s financial aid status to remain personal at the beginning, so the topic of a student’s given financial aid situation only goes as far as the given student wants it to.

“There were times [at South] that [Shellard and I] witnessed […] kids having to walk into the bookstore and say, ‘But I’m free and reduced’ or it was called [to] attention around other students or around other parents,” Cummings said. “And we just felt very strongly that that’s not appropriate. Whatever their reason is for qualifying, that’s confidential and it’s personal.”

Need-Based Aid for College

Finally, as college deadlines draw nearer, the Oracle Editorial Board believes that every student should take advantage of all the need-based aid that they can get as they move forward into the collegiate world.

When applying for colleges, there are different types of need-based aid students can apply for Questbridge and FAFSA being the most common. While Questbridge has a limit on the amount of money a family can receive in order to be eligible for the aid, FAFSA has no such limitations and is open for all people to fill out in order to determine federal need-based aid that can be provided.

While FAFSA has the obvious benefits of helping students whose family cannot pay for college by themselves, students are typically required to fill out FAFSA in order to be considered for merit-based scholarships.

Thus, filling out the FAFSA is a great way to either help get funds for college, or receive merit-based awards. However, no matter what the case is, it’s impossible to know the help a person is eligible for unless they reach out to the school through applications for need-based scholarships.

In the end, a person should not be judged by the amount of support they receive from school. A need-based scholarship does not change the work ethic or character of an individual, nor does it increase favors towards them outside the financial realm.

Why should we, as a community, stigmatize the students who are receiving need-based scholarships in order to provide themselves with more opportunities in the future? Instead, we should all apply for scholarships that are applicable to our familial financial situation and invest in our futures by putting money aside and taking advantage of the financial aid available to us.

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Financial aid provides student opportunities