Students seek financial assistance for summer

By | May 01, 2012 | News (2)

Fresno State students waited in line for financial aid last August.
Approximately 60 percent of the student body receives some sort of
financial aid in the form of grant, loan or work study. Students who
use financial aid may need to find other means to cover expenses
during the summer.
Ana Mendoza / Collegian File Photo

More than half of the students at Fresno State take advantage of financial aid resources, but many must find an alternative income during the summer.

Maria Hernandez has worked in the financial aid office for 32 years, serving as the director for the last 11. To students who are eligible, Hernandez is responsible for approving their financial assistance.

“Annually, approximately 60 percent of the student body receives some form of financial aid,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the applicants are a combination of students who rely solely on financial aid, and those who hold outside jobs. The select students who aren’t planning to take summer school courses won’t reap the financial aid benefits for the more than three-month period.

“If the student is not enrolled during the summer, financial aid cannot be offered for that time period,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said it is important for students to keep in mind that available funding for summer is very limited.

Lauren Hoekstra, a senior kinesiology student, has utilized the financial aid opportunities for the past four years. As a full-time student, she has maintained part-time jobs to make ends meet.

“Financial aid has helped me immensely over the course of my college career,” Hoekstra said. “Without it, I would have struggled and might even possibly not have been able to attend a four-year university.”

Hoekstra uses financial aid money for tuition and other expenses during the semester.  When school breaks for summer vacation, she’s forced to find other sources of income.

“I will normally pick up a summer job alongside my permanent parttime job so that I can support myself,” Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra has not only used financial aid resources, but also the resources offered by career services. She has been an active user of BulldogLink, a resource that has helped her to maintain a steady job within her major field of study.

BulldogLink is a Web-based system provided by career services where students can browse through job postings from on and off-campus employers.

Director of career services Rita Bocchinfuso-Cohen has worked in the field for almost eight years. This department provides students with many resources, such as help deciding on a career path or major. They also do career testing, networking events and workshops in order to prepare students for job searches as well as connecting them with employers.

Career services is an under-utilized resource; only about one in four students go in for assistance.

“From surveys that I’ve done in the past, it’s about 25 percent of the student population that uses our services,” Bocchinfuso-Cohen said.

Bocchinfuso-Cohen said it would be ideal to have more students use the resources offered to them. With the competitiveness in hiring — for summer jobs especially — career services can help these students to maintain stability when they break from school and financial aid.

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