College leaders warn students to apply for financial aid now

Tammy Capps
Tammy Capps
Ericka Jones
Ericka Jones

By Laura Wibbenmeyer - bio | email

ULLIN, IL (KFVS) - Southern Illinois college students are being warned to apply for financial aid now because grant money will likely run out sooner rather than later.

To receive state grants the deadline is technically in August, but in 2009 the money ran out in July, last year it ran out in May and this year it could run out any day.

Director of financial aid at Shawnee Community College, Tammy Capps, says this is not the year to procrastinate.

"Please apply now, please apply early, the early bird catches the worm," said Capps.

This "worm" could mean the difference between and college education or not.

Capps says more students are applying for financial aid than she can ever remember.

"Approximately 50 percent more students have applied for FAFSA this year as opposed to last year," said Capps.

Capps says with Illinois state cuts, that total grant money keeps dropping, moving deadlines up and ultimately leaving less money for students at Shawnee.

"About half of the amount of MAP money has been awarded this year as opposed to last year," Capps said. "This is also a perfect opportunity  for students to go back to school due to the economic times."

Ericka Jones is one of those students who has decided to go back to school after 11 years.  Jones is a 30-year-old freshman, but her more important title is mother and that is why she is back in school.

"My son he was born with spina bifida so that kind of gave me a push to get back in school so I would be self reliant for me and my son," Jones said.

She says financial aid is the only reason she is able to provide a solid future for her and her son.

Capps says she fears students procrastinating and missing out of financial aid, would mean the school enrollment number would drop leaving students without an education.

Bottom line now is the time to apply for help.  If state money does run out, Capps says students can apply for federal help all year round.

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