5 Tips for Optimizing Financial Aid Navigation

Navigating the world of financial aid can seem daunting. The rules seem to change all the time. Everyone has heard horror stories of students who thought they’d be receiving a certain amount of aid being priced out of college. And while it can be complicated and you won’t always get what you expect, there are a few tricks that can help you make sure you’re receiving the aid you deserve.

1. Know your terminology.

While it’s not always consistent from school to school or state to state, having an understanding of the terms that will be thrown at you help keep you from accepting the consequences of a financial aid package you don’t understand. Understanding that there is need-based aid and merit-based aid, and that aid packages typically include loans, is a good starting place.

This website can help: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/glossary. And if you don’t understand, do a little research before making a commitment.

2. Fill out of the FAFSA.

That is, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can fill it out here: https://fafsa.ed.gov/. EVERYONE SHOULD FILL OUT THE FAFSA. Even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible for aid. It can’t hurt to find out.

Fill it out every year, and try to fill it out as early as possible. Generally, you can fill it out as early as January 1 (Tip: You need your tax information to fill out the FAFSA. The most recent year is easiest to use, so file your taxes early!). Why fill it out early? There are more funds available earlier in the year. Because the financial aid system is complex, submit a new FAFSA every year, even if you haven’t had any significant financial changes. All kinds of things make a difference, and even a small amount of gain in aid is worth it, right?

It’s also important to send your FAFSA to several different schools. They can see where you’ve sent it, and it may inspire them to be a little more generous if they think you’re an ideal candidate.

3. Pay attention to net price versus net cost.

Simply put, net cost counts loans against the cost of attendance, and net price only counts scholarships and grants, i.e. money you won’t eventually have to pay back.

It can be easy to look at a net cost that seems low and think you’re getting a great aid package that results in a low out-of-pocket cost. However, if 50% of that aid is student loans, even low-interest loans, it’s possible that another school is offering a better package.

4. Careful about loans.

Loans can be great. In theory, earning power increases with a college degree, and by the time you have to start paying back those loans it’s very possible that you’ll have a full-time job and you’ll be able to factor them into your budget. However, all loans are not created equal.

Private loans can seem appealing because they are sometimes able to offer greater amounts than Federal loans. But they come with a catch. Most private loans require a co-signer. If you’re a parent, you need to co-sign with complete understanding that if your child can’t or doesn’t pay back this loan, it quickly becomes your responsibility. And private loans typically aren’t flexible or negotiable later. The payment you sign up for is the payment you’re stuck with.

Federal loans are generally a better choice, but they of course have some caveats as well. Defaulting on a Federal loan can mean swift action to garnish your wages and tax refund. Federal loan repayment operates very similarly to a mortgage, so the early years of repayment go mostly toward interest. But Federal loans offer repayment flexibility. You can adopt a payment plan that works for you, whether that means consolidation, earned-income payments, or a graduated repayment plan.

5. Apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many students don’t apply because they don’t think they’ll be awarded anything. Talk to a school guidance counselor and find out what scholarships and grants are available to you. There are loads of local organizations that give out student scholarships. And with a recent push toward a common application, it might be a lot easier than you think. In NYS, a Pell grant can be an easy way to offset the cost of tuition, as it’s offered as a need-based grant.

A lot of students don’t apply for scholarships because they’re small and they don’t think a few hundred dollars is worth the time. But add together four or five or more of those small scholarships, and it can start to make a dent. Also, many of the small scholarships are awarded as cash, which can really help with the cost-of-living expenses that aren’t built in to tuition.

Of course, cost isn’t the only factor is choosing a school. But looking at financial aid packages and understanding what is truly being offered will help make sure you’re not being fooled into thinking you’re getting more aid than you think.

Schedule a summer visit to Hilbert College and meet with a financial aid representative to start learning how affordable a Hilbert education can be.

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6 Reasons Small Schools Are Awesome

Small VS BIG-02

When it comes time to choose a school after high school, or even time to begin applying to schools, one of the major choices students make is “big school or small school?”

Should you choose a small school, such as Hilbert College, there are a lot of benefits that you’re unlikely to duplicate at a large public college or university.

1. Sense of community.

We’ve all heard this one before. Smaller schools offer a greater sense of belonging, they work harder to facilitate new friendships and cultivate a community full of opportunity to make sure every student feels like they really belong there. But that sense of community means more than that. It means that when you get involved in a cause, your individual contributions matter, because there’s less competition. You feel like you belong, but you also feel like you’re truly contributing to your community, not just benefitting from it.

2. Taught by professors, not TAs.

Smaller schools typically have all courses taught by professors, not TAs (teaching assistants). While graduate student TAs have their place in the academic world, you’ve undoubtedly paid your tuition with the intention of receiving an education from an expert in the field, not an expert-in-training.

Additionally, you’re likely to get better feedback from professors, particularly in small classes. They aren’t rushing to submit 300 grades, so they can take their time to really show you what you can do better. This is invaluable during your education.

 3. Professors are committed to teaching.

Large universities often have a lot of pressure to conduct research and bring in funding for continued research projects. Professors are expected to write and publish on a regular basis. At a small school, the professors’ only professional commitment is to teaching.

4. Less bureaucracy.

You’ve heard the adage “not just a number.” What that means is that your advisors have more time to advise you and come up with a course plan that suits you and your goals. They have time to check in on you. They are able to recommend other activities based on your interests. And when you run into a problem (and you will, because your parents might not be there to make sure everything gets done), you’re more likely to be on the receiving end of some flexibility, forgiveness and assistance.

5. It’s not all about sports.

Sports are great, and at most schools they can still be a big part of life. Smaller schools offer the same sports without insane pressure to make money off those sports. A sporting event at a small school often means everyone comes together as a community to cheer on their friends and classmates.

6. Smaller classes.

Smaller classes mean more opportunities to ask questions, and more opportunities to get to know your professors. Professors can mentor and teach you, and pass knowledge beyond just the course curriculum on to you.

Did you know that good writing skills become increasingly important as you move through school and into the professional world? Now consider a class with hundreds of students and one professor. How many papers do you think that professor has time to grade and evaluate during the semester? A small school with small class sizes means you’ll likely write more papers and really hone your writing skills.

Whether you choose to attend a big school or a small school, it’s important to make the choice that’s right for you. At Hilbert, we believe in the benefits of a small school.

If you’d like to visit Hilbert College this summer and check out everything we have to offer (like small class sizes, dedicated professors, abundant extra-curriculars, etc.), you can schedule your visit here. www.hilbert.edu/summervisit

Hilbert College: small community, great opportunity.

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2015 Commencement Photo Gallery #1

Click here to watch the archived video from Hilbert College’s 54th Annual Commencement >>>

(Please note: Ceremony begins around the 42:00 mark of the video and we experienced audio difficulties at the beginning of the ceremony, which are cleared up around the 50:00 mark)

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54th Annual Commencement – Live Streaming

_MG_0682Hilbert College is pleased to announce that the school’s 54th Annual Commencement on Saturday, May 16, 2015 will be streamed live on the internet.  This marks the second consecutive year that Hilbert’s commencement ceremony will be available for live online viewing.  The ceremony will be streamed using Boxcast technology. Commencement begins at 1:00 p.m. at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg.  We are happy to be able to provide this free streaming and encourage you to share the link with friends and family who may not be in attendance at the church.

Click here for Live Streaming >>>  (link will be active at approx. 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 16)

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Two Hilbert Accounting Students Recognized at Dinner

20150421AcctOn Tuesday April 21, two Hilbert students were recognized by the NYSSCPA for their academic achievements.  Jonathan Monheim was the recipient of the Award of Honor and Melody Cole was the recipient of the John T. Kennedy Memorial Award.  The Award of Honor is presented to a senior with the highest general averaged grade in all accounting courses, and the John T. Kennedy Memorial Award is presented to a junior with the highest overall scholastic average.

These awards were presented at the NYSSCPA Buffalo Chapter’s Education Night Dinner at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens.  The students were in attendance with Professor Roland, as well as their parents.

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Hilbert’s Enactus Team Competes at National Expo | Photo Gallery

The Hilbert College Enactus team, founded in 2001, recently traveled to St. Louis for the 2015 Enactus National Exposition. Of the 533 teams chartered in the United States the Hilbert College Enactus team finished in the Top 100, making it one of the top 20% in the country. This year’s team was comprised of five members. The presenters included Amanda Becker, Arvi Carkanji, Cord Polzin, and Joshua Von Haugg. The presentation technician was Olivia Kimble.

This marks the 10th time out of 15 years that the Hilbert College Enactus, formerly SIFE, was recognized as an opening round champion, and advanced to the next level of the competition. In addition to the competition, the Hilbert College students also took advantage of the sights that St. Louis had to offer. They toured the Anheuser-Busch Factory, the famous St. Louis arch, and by attending a hometown MLB game at Busch Stadium. Fun was had by all of the members of the team. If interested in participating in Enactus please contact Professor Dan Roland at droland@hilbert.edu.

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New Diversity Video Created by Students

The COM club created a video for the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Diversity.  Check it out today!

Great Work!

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Students Visit Federal Courthouse

HilbertFederalCourtHilbert students had the opportunity to visit and tour the federal courthouse in downtown Buffalo on Friday, April 10, thanks to Wendy Edson, Chair of the Professional Studies Division, and Katie Martoche, Director of Career Development and Service Learning.

The group was surprised upon arriving and meeting with Gretchen Wylegala, Hilbert’s Board Chair and an Attorney for the Federal Government, who had arranged with Judge Jeremiah McCarthy, a Hilbert Board member, to meet the group along with four Hilbert grads who work in the court system.  The group also met with court librarian Jay Deveau, who had been an adjunct at Hilbert for many years.  It was a tremendous opportunity for students to hear from graduates about how their Hilbert education, internships, and connections helped them professionally.

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Hilbert Introduces New Major for Internet Journalism & List Creation – 14 of the MOST important rules

58411875April 1, 2015

Hilbert College has announced it will begin offering a new major in Internet Journalism. Some of the core courses include:

#COM 102 – Writing Headlines that subsequently have nothing to do with the content of the story

#COM 201 – The Epitome of Hyperbole – EVERYTHING you write should be the MOST important story of all time

#COM 245 – How to create useless, needless, and worthless lists that will waste an immeasurable amount of people’s time

#COM 401 – How to get the most clicks on social media – take some of the most obvious things in society and act like you are performing a public service by publishing them. For Example – The most important thing to do this weekend, that you probably never thought of … Click the link and get: Don’t turn your clocks back.

Now for 14 of the MOST important rules of Internet Journalism (there is really only 5, but 14 sounded better)

  1. Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy … is NOT important on the internet
  2. Objectivity has no place on the internet. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your opinion! Don’t worry about telling the Who, What, When, Why, and How
  3. Lists are your friend, make ‘em up. As many as you want, about whatever you want, really I’m not kidding. The 17 most thirst-quenching beverages (water is not one of them) – Go for it!
  4. You don’t really have to take into account things like: public trust, truthfulness, fairness, integrity, independence or accountability. It’s just the Internet.
  5. You should not worry yourself with minor details like spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

For those interested in this major, please email your questions to AFD2015@nosuchemail.edu.


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From the Hilbert College Wellness Center – Tips on Losing Weight

Lose-weight-healthyTips on Losing Weight for the Warmer Months
by Kirsten Falcone, RN

If you are like most college students, you have put on a few pounds since you arrived last August. But now that spring break is over, summer break is on the horizon, and so is all its skin-bearing attire. Suddenly, those pounds are a bit more noticeable. Before you go on a diet, be sure to check your body mass index (BMI). Anyone whose BMI (see previous blog on BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9 is a normal weight, so you may still be within that range, and you don’t really need to lose weight. But if your BMI is above 25, it is a good idea to instill some new habits.

Exercise. Before considering cutting calories, it is important to add exercise into your routine. A good start, and one that is easy to maintain, is simply to briskly walk at least three times per week. (Now that the snow and ice are melting, this will be easier to do!) Walking and swimming are the least jarring of all the options available, and they are great for your cardiovascular system, as well as many other bodily systems. If you never exercised before, and your calorie intake remains the same, you may find that adding exercise is the only lifestyle change needed in order to accomplish your goal.

The time of day matters when it comes to exercise. Ideally, the morning is the best time, because it jump starts your metabolism for the day. (But don’t make the mistake of not exercising at all. Some exercise is better than none at all.) Be aware that if you exercise too close to bedtime, you will lose the benefit of an increased metabolism, as your body will slow down in preparation for sleep. You will also run the risk of experiencing sleeplessness, which leads us to the subject of…

Sleep. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep hinders metabolism. Also, if you are sleep-deprived, you will be less motivated to spend energy on maintaining your exercise and nutrition habits. It is important to adhere to the same bedtime every night, and sleep at least 7 ½ hours. (Many adults need up to nine hours, just to feel human.)

Nutrition. Changing what you eat may be important, if you don’t eat a balanced diet. But sometimes changing the way you eat is more important. For example, you should eat the vegetables and fruit on your plate first before you eat the main course. (No, potato chips and French fries are not considered vegetables!) This will help you acquire the vitamins and fiber you need and may keep you from overdoing it with the more fattening entrée.

Another strategy is to eat only half of what you would normally eat, such as half a sandwich, or use a smaller plate, which tricks you into thinking your portion is larger than it is. (And don’t go back for seconds!) If you are out at a restaurant, it is OK to eat only half. Also be aware that a large percentage of the meal’s calories can be hidden in the beverage, so always opt for healthful choices, such as skim milk, unsweetened tea, or just plain water. Try to skip the caffeine, if possible, or limit it to the equivalent of two cups of coffee per day. It is also important to take the proper time to eat, since the stomach will not usually register it is full until 20 minutes afterward.

It is a good idea to read labels for items such as sugar, salt, fat, and fiber. If you can substitute whole food for labeled food, it’s all the better. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away! Plus, make certain you drink 64 or more ounces of water per day. (See previous blog on dehydration.) Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are really just dehydrated.

Food Journaling. Keeping a food journal is a good option for those who are accustomed to snacking throughout the day. It is easy to forget about that cookie here or that small bag of chips there. Keep the journal with you at all times, so you won’t forget to write things down.

Fad Diets. Skip them. They don’t work. In the long run, you will gain all your weight back, plus more. The best course of action for losing weight is exercise and portion control, period.

Electronic Help. Though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of electronic help and smart phone apps, it may benefit you to try these sources:


Lose It!





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