Academics & Research News

Financial aid helps students college costs

Financial aid helps UH students with their college costs

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

As college tuition steadily rises, students express frustration concerning their education costs and financial aid.

In addition to tuition, other items contributing to the college experience such as housing, meal plans and books add to the cost. Although there are loans, students seek or receive alternative methods of funding to cover costs. 

One way students work with financial aid is to receive need-based grants sourced from federal, state, private and university entities. 

Financial need is evaluated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a form that calculates and determines student eligibility for financial aid. Limited grant funding requires students to submit their FAFSA early to receive maximum consideration.

Another source of money for students is scholarships. Most scholarships award students based on academic merit and leadership, unlike grants.

Intensely competitive to receive, utilizing different scholarship databases helps to increase chances of students receiving one. In making the process easier for students, UH created the Scholarship Universe, an online tool to help find scholarships

Additionally, the University provides information about external and internal scholarships fitting every student’s needs and interests.

One of the categories is research, to which political science juniors David Paul Hilton and Tia Hufstetler won the Critical Language Scholarship.

The scholarship, facilitated by the U.S. Department of State, aims to help college students learn foreign languages for their professional development in a summer study abroad program.

As a seasoned scholarship applicant, Hilton notes the prestigious scholarship helped his understanding of the Russian language.

“I previously applied as a freshman but was rejected. So when I saw the acceptance email, I was absolutely overjoyed,” Hilton said. “Admittedly, I was a bit sad to hear that the program was virtual. But the experience thus far has sharpened my Russian language skills immensely, and I have felt my confidence and speaking ability grow miles.”

As for Hufstetler, the Critical Language Scholarship is one of two she has won. The second is the Herman F. Elite Scholarship from the American University in Cairo, where she will do her spring semester abroad.

The funds from both scholarships will help with her Arabic language studies. 

“I got to work on my Arabic and noticed significant advances in my Arabic skills,” Hufstetler said. “I want to apply for a master’s in international relations, with a focus on Middle Eastern studies, so this will be a huge help, not only in my further education but my career.”

For students looking for scholarships, Hilton and Hufstetler believe networking and using the resources at UH helps.

“(The Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards) and others gave me detailed and instructive critiques on my essays and application to the scholarship,” Hilton said. “I’d also recommend just asking professors, students and others for opportunities they know about in general.”

“Networking is key in college and doubly so in finding scholarships and more,” Hilton continued. “It can be intimidating at first, but it is genuinely one of the most helpful things to do as a student, for scholarships, recommendation letters and even just a better understanding of classes.”

Hufstetler also believes pushing past mental blockages for a confident mindset is necessary while applying.

“My major tip for incoming students is to just apply,” Hufstetler said. “My main obstacle was always my mindset. However, this past year I decided to change it and apply to different programs and scholarships, even if I thought I did not have a chance.”

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