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Joint Financial Aid Night and Funding Fair: Experts Help Students Navigate the Process

By Ainslie Cromar – Life Editor and Joey Defalco – Reporter

Clark’s annual Financial Aid Night and Funding Fair combined forces to jointly educate students and their families about financial opportunities and help them through the application processes on March 1 in the Gaiser Student Center and Career Center.

Event organizer and Financial Aid Program specialist Hannah Throop said this is the first time the college is combining its Funding Fair and Financial Aid Awareness events. “We decided it would be a better use of students time and resources,” she said.

“Our students here at Clark are from such diverse backgrounds,” Throop said. “They don’t really fit what I would call the traditional model of parents paying for them to go … So it’s important for them because so many of our students rely on financial aid.”

The Funding Fair had tables dedicated to types of aid including financial literacy with Clark financial literacy coach Austin Keever, work study, loans and The Clark College Foundation table which provided laptops set up to help students fill out scholarship applications.

Financial Aid Program specialist Andrew Viscariello spoke at the Funding Fair and underscored the importance of assistance with WASFA applications. “It can be daunting the first time you’re doing this,” he said. “People appreciate having another hand there.”

Viscariello said the purpose of the joint event was to ensure students left “with a sense of confidence that school is affordable.”

There was also an admissions table where incoming students could get their Clark application fee waived.

Financial Aid Program Specialist Andrew Viscariello in the Career Center computer lab during the Financial Aid Night. (Joey Defalco / The Independent)

The event’s Funding Fair portion was 5-5:50 p.m. in the Gaiser Student Center while the Financial Aid portion started at 6 p.m. in the Career Center.

Financial Aid staff helped students and their parents submit WASFA applications in the Career Center computer lab. They asked students to bring their 2016 tax information, Social Security number, alien registration number and income and finance records.

Associate Director of Financial Aid Kate Jacky said it can be kind of intimidating for families to tackle the application.” With the discrepancies and complications involving finances, marital status and technical difficulties on the application site, Jacky said, completing the questions is a different process for each person. Throop said the financial aid process is the number one complaint students have and she hopes incoming students realize the importance of getting applications in early so they can go through the processes quicker. “I want them to walk away feeling like they now understand the process.”

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