Marylhurst’s financial aid director, Tracy Reisinger, spoke with Sheila Hamilton of KINK radio, offering tips for getting funding to cover the rising costs of higher education.

In their conversation, Reisinger answered questions regarding anyone seeking financial assistance for a university program. Here are some highlights:

Who is eligible for financial aid?

Those who are:

  • Admitted to a degree program
  • Attending at least half-time
  • Not in default on a past loan
  • A United States citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Graduate of high school (or GED equivalent)

When should you apply for financial aid?

  • Usually in January for fall term
  • However, it’s not too late; some (not all) aid is still available for fall 2016
  • New for 2017-18 academic year: application period will start October 1 instead of January 1

Where should you look for financial aid?

  • Start by completing the FAFSA, required for everyone; that starts the process to obtain federal aid, scholarships and loans
  • Many schools will have separate, supplemental application(s); check with all schools you’re applying to

We know there’s good debt and bad debt. Is financial aid good debt?

  • “Free money” is best: Try to cover college expenses with scholarships and grants
  • Student loans are like mortgages; it’s an investment in your future
  • Earning potential is higher: estimated $500,000 more over your lifetime with a bachelor’s degree

What should you ask a financial aid counselor?

  • What do I need to do to get aid at this school?
  • What are the deadlines?
  • Respond to all requests from financial aid specialists — even if you think you’ve already done what they’re requesting

When the award letters arrive, should I just accept the school that offers the most aid?

No, says Reisinger. Be sure to:

  • Compare overall cost, for the entire degree program, at each school
  • Estimate your out-of-pocket expense to complete your degree, including transportation, parking, etc.
  • Ask about renewal criteria for scholarships; know it will be harder to keep a high GPA in college than it was in high school
  • Ask if you switch your major, will you lose your scholarship?

To hear the full interview, including Reisinger’s thoughts on the proposed federal program for free community college and whether to use a credit card to cover college expenses, go to SoundCloud.com.