A Day in the Life: The SSC Blogs

While we do love our information packed blog posts we also like to have a bit of fun in our office. We’ve introduced our staff members before but since that first blog post we’ve had some staff changes go into effect and would love to re-introduce the financial aid (and potentially beyond!) staff!

These blog posts will cover staff members in the Student Service Center and will offer interesting information about each staff member but also more practical information to help you identify who the best person to outreach to is.

First up we have the lovely Katie Paquin, one of our newer financial aid counselors. Katie has been working at Wentworth for 4 months, 28 days and 7 ½ hours (she is very precise). Katie completed her Undergraduate degree at Rhode Island College in Dance and Psychology (what a weird mix). She also has her Master’s degree in Counseling from Providence College- can you tell she is from Rhode Island? We asked her a series of questions and have reordered her responses below verbatim (no pressure- right?)

What do you love most about Wentworth?

Um *laughs* I love my co-workers. They make it all worth it. I love the location and I love the student body. It’s one I feel I can relate to. Why? I also went to school in a city for my freshman year and I was faced with a lot of the same financial challenges that our student’s face when they arrive here.

What piece of advice would you offer to a student?

Use your resources. Student’s often think that the financial aid package they are offered is it but there are thousands of outside scholarships and resources that students can look into. We provide student’s free membership to a site called www.saltmoney.org. It’s awesome-I use it all the time.

What are your job specialties?

Well, funny you should ask. I am in charge of SALT- our usage is monitored so please sign up for my job security. I am also in charge of state grants and the Massachusetts No Interest Loan program.

What is something someone may not know about you?

I am a professional ballerina. I have run three half marathons and I am training for my second full marathon. So I eat a lot of food. Like a lot. All the time. And if you ever want to bring me a treat my favorite food is ice cream (any variety except Cherry Garcia).

Final question- give us a fun fact about yourself.

I am only 5 feet tall and I have to climb on shelves when I go grocery shopping.

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Katie- we will have another staff posting up soon enough so keep an eye out!

Until next time!


150%- Not Just A Grade To Strive For

If you have borrowed Stafford loans in in the past two years or are a new borrower you may have heard the term “150 percent” thrown around. This term refers to the time limit in which you can receive Subsidized loans.

If you are a first time borrower as of July 1, 2013 (meaning any loans as of that date or after) there is a limit to the maximum period of time- measured in academic years- that you can receive Subsidized Loans. If you only receive Unsubsidized loans or Direct PLUS loans then you can just move right along! (Unless you read this blog for fun- totally wouldn’t blame you)

Now if you do borrow Subsidized Loans then the maximum amount of time you can receive these loans is 150 percent of the published time for your program. Now you may be wondering what exactly this means. Think about it this way: if your program is scheduled to last for 4 years then the maximum amount of time you can receive Subsidized loans is 6 years. That’s four years (100%) plus two more (50%). Easy now, right?

If you are in a program that is scheduled to last two years the maximum you can receive the loans three years. (two years 100% one year 50%)

Now let’s say you started off in an associate’s degree program and decided to move up to a bachelor’s degree- that means that your eligibility would increase from three years to six years! But let’s say you move from a bachelor’s degree to an associates- your eligibility would then decrease down to three years. This means if you’ve used two years you would only have one remaining instead of four. Definitely something to consider!

It is also important to note that even if you change majors if both degrees still take the same amount of time your clock does not start over. This means if you decide to change your major in your- let’s say junior year- you would have already used upwards of three years of those six years available to you.

If you find yourself closing in on your 150% of your degree program please feel free to reach out to your counselor to discuss potential impacts! We also HIGHLY recommend checking out this great article from SALT Money for more information!!

As always reach out to us if you have questions!


Budgeting 101

Now that you have arrived on campus, maybe even started a new job, it is time to start thinking about how to budget. It is never too early to set out a budget plan for yourself to help manage funds and become financially responsible!

It is extremely important to come up with a monthly budget while in college to help you stay on top of your monthly costs. Those little things that you get can add up quickly making you wonder where all your money went at the end of the month. Let’s consider that a drink at Starbucks that costs $3 a day adds up to $60 a month! That’s the same cost of that new video game you’ve had your eye on.

If you were awarded Federal Work Study or Wentworth Work Study it’s important to keep in mind that you have a limit of what you can earn over the school year. For example let’s say you were offered $1,600 in work study. You should figure out a monthly plan that stays within that $1,600 over the course of the school year. We recommend using a monthly budget worksheet to start yourself out and alter as you go along (like this one from SALT!).

It’s important to remember that the first budget you set out will not be your budget forever. Changes in living situation, work situation and even family situation will always play a factor in what expenses you experience each month. If you find yourself spending more in one category than you had originally budgeted and less in another category then you can easily adjust your budget to reflect that change.

When it comes to tracking how much you spend a checking account and online banking can give you real time information on your spending and current balances. If you don’t have a checking account currently then shop around with various banks as many of them will offer student’s free checking accounts with minimal to no fees.

After you have created your budget you are already well on your way to saving money, cutting expenses and being financially responsible! If you need even more convincing on why you should budget check out this video from SALT below.

If you haven’t done so register with SALTMoney- a free tool for Wentworth student’s to learn about spending, loans, and overall financial literacy.

If you have any questions either the financial aid or SALT staff will be happy to help!

Until next time!


Constitution Day Part Duex!

Each year on September 17th we celebrate Constitution Day which is a celebration of the signing of the US constitution in 1787. In case you missed it last year- here is some basic information on the Constitution!!

Since its inception it has been amended 27 times which roughly balances out to an amendment every 8.4 years.

The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights and address two major concerns of the founding fathers; protecting individual freedom and the balance of power between the states, federal government, and the people. The Bill of Rights was added into the constitution in 1791 and cover important subjects such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The amendments that follow in the constitution range a variety of subjects; including voting rights, prohibition and the ratification of that amendment, and abolishing slavery.

This year we’ve decided to utilize the great resources from Constitution Facts to come up with our own little Constitution Day Quiz! Test your knowledge about one of the most important documents in US History! (don’t worry answer key is provided below!)

  • What was our first constitution called?
    1. Articles of Confederation
    2. Declaration of Independence
    3. Federalist Papers
    4. Emancipation Proclamation
  • Laws for the US are made by:
    1. President
    2. Senate
    3. Congress
    4. Supreme Court
  • How many Constitutions has the US had?
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
  • Until the 25th amendment was passed, what happened if a vice president died in office?
    1. The president appointed a new VP
    2. There would be a special election for a new VP
    3. There would be no VP until the next election
    4. The speaker of the house becomes the president
  • Nine states were required to ratify the Constitution- which state was the first and which state was the last to ratify?
  1. Pennsylvania, Georgia
  2. Delaware, New Hampshire,
  3. Massachusetts, Maryland
  4. Delaware, South Carolina
  1. A                      2. C                         3. B                        4. C                                5. B

Fun fact about the number of Constitution’s we’ve had: The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution and was in effect from 1781 to 1789. In 1789, the second Constitution went into effect after it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

If you are interested in taking even more quizzes on the Constitution to test your knowledge check out Constitution Facts for plenty of basic and expert level quizzes!

Until next time!


Ways To Pay

Now that the bill has come out you are probably asking yourself: “How do I pay this?” There are many ways to cover that gap between your financial aid award and the bill. We don’t formally recommend any particular way to cover your balance since every family is different. However there are three major ways that we often see families utilizing to pay their bill.

Parent and Graduate PLUS loans– The PLUS loan is a federal loan that are available to the parents of dependent students and graduate students. These loans require an application and credit check in order to qualify. The Parent PLUS loan is a loan taken out in the parents name as opposed to the student. This means that the parent is primarily responsible for repayment of the loan. Applications for the PLUS loans are processed through www.studentloans.gov.

Private or Alternative Loans: If a PLUS loan is not the right option for you but you still would rather take a loan out than pay upfront then an alternative loan would be your next stop. Alternative loans are offered through a bank or lender and are loans taken out in the student’s name; however they will often need a co-signer to be approved. The repayment options vary depending on the loan and some loans may have other fees associated with borrowing so always ask the lender before you apply! You can compare private loans by using the Borrow Smart tool. The financial aid office does not recommend alternative loans to students or their families. A list of commonly used alternative loans can be found here.

If you want some more guidance on what private loan to borrow you can check out this great article from SALT titled “How to Shop Around for a Private Loan.”

Payment plan- Wentworth offers an interest-free monthly payment plan with Tuition Management Systems, or TMS for short. When you set up a payment plan you are dividing the costs of the academic year over several payments. There are various plans available depending on how you want to break down your payment plan. Check out this handy- dandy chart below with a breakdown of the plans, associated fees and payment dates.


Payment Plan Details

Plan Type # of Payments First Payment Date

(Current Year)

Last Payment Date Enrollment Fee
Full Year 12 April 5th March 5th

(Following Year) 

11 May 5th
10 June 5th
9 July 5th
  8² August 5th
Fall Only 5 June 5th October 5th $60.00
4 July 5th
Spring Only 5 November 5th March 5th

(Following Year)

4 December 5th

The monthly statements are sent out by TMS and all payments are remitted directly to TMS and will appear on your WIT account once TMS receives the payment.

You can get some more information regarding TMS here!

Some families will do a combination of the above options but again it is really up to the student (and family) how they wish to cover this balance.

As always we highly recommend that students also pursue outside scholarship awards to help bridge the gap and manage their borrowing. If you are in need of a place to start check out these articles and SALT’s great scholarship search tool to get started on the application process!

Until next time!


Loan Repayment- it’s a thing

Graduation is an incredibly exciting time. The thought of walking across that stage and finally being finished with school is enough to push you through that final stretch of presentations, papers and extreme consumption of coffee. With your thoughts on the future and what your post-graduation plans are there is one thing to keep in mind- loan repayment (sorry buzzkill) For the purposes of financial aid we will focus on repayment options for the most common student loan debt- Stafford loans. However it is important to keep in mind that if you have borrowed Perkin’s, Mass No Interest Loans, or any private loans that those all have various repayment options as well.

Once you graduate your grace period will begin. For students who have not taken any time off between school years this will be 6 months. In these six months you will be contacted by your assigned loan servicer. The Department of Education uses several different servicers for billing and repayment for student loans and it is your responsivity to stay in touch with your servicer. Your servicer will be your main point of contact from here on out. You can look at your repayment options and even begin the consolidation process with them.

Now two questions may come to mind at the moment- what are the repayment options and what is consolidation? Great questions! I wanted you to ask those so that worked out well- didn’t it? There are various repayment options that you can look into with your loan servicer. There is the Standard Plan, Extended Plan, Graduated Plan, and Income- Based Plan.

The Standard repayment plan is the plan that your loan servicer will place you on automatically if you do not chose another plan. This plan will save you money over time because the payments are usually larger but you also pay the loan off in a shorter time, thus saving you money on interest. These loan payments are minimum $50 a month and are made for up to 10 years (for non-consolidated loans only).

The Extended repayment plan lowers your monthly payments but increases the amount of time you are paying off for your loans. Instead of payments over 10 years the payments are made for up to 25 years. In order to qualify for this plan you must have over $30,000 in outstanding Direct Loans.

The Graduated repayment plan begins your payments lower and gradually increases every two years. Payments are made for up to 10 years (for non-consolidated loans) and payments will never be less than the amount of interest accrued between payments. This plan is a good option if your income starts low but you expect to increase over time.

Income- based repayment are plans that are designed to make your debt manageable by decreasing your monthly payment amount to a certain percentage of your discretionary income annually. There are three different income based repayment plans and each have their own timeline and payment percentage differences.

Since we have reviewed the different repayment options for your loans it’s time to talk consolidation. Loan consolidation allows you to combine federal loans into one loan which results in one single monthly payment instead of multiple payments for each loan. There is no fee for applying to consolidate your loans but you should carefully consider whether or not it is the right option for you. You will be able to simplify your loan repayment process but centralizing your bill into one and give yourself up to 30 years to repay all the loans. Loan consolidation will also take your variable interest rates for each loan give you a fixed interest rate for all the consolidated loans. This is usually an average between all of your interest rates so for example let’s say you have three loans at 3.5%, 4.6% and 6.2% the average interest rate between the three is 4.7% so you lose that lower interest rate but also decrease the overall interest for some loans. For information about the pros and cons about consolidation check out this great article from SALT.

Hopefully this doesn’t dampen your spirits too much- remember that graduating college is a great accomplishment and an investment in your future. As always we are here to answer any questions you may have!

Until next time!!


Scholarships 101

Today Wentworth’s various endowed scholarships will become available on Academic Works. These scholarships are a great opportunity for student’s to get additional funds to help with the cost of their education and we have lots of them!

For those of you who don’t know these scholarship opportunities are available due to generous donations made to the college from various sources, including alumni, faculty, staff, corporations and one from our very own President Pantic!

It is important to note that in most cases you must be a returning WIT student to be considered, meaning you have completed at least one semester at WIT during the 14/15 academic year.

There are some specific qualifications set by the donors for the awards but it is easy to tell on Academic Works if you fit the qualifications or not. In this post we will review best practices for these applications and tips on how to maximize your chances of being awarded a scholarship.

First things first, let’s go over how to actually apply. Go to www.wit.academicworks.com and log in with your standard Wentworth log-in (what you use to get into the computer). This should direct you to the main scholarship page where you can submit your General Application, let’s call it GA for short. The GA is probably the most important part of your application so be sure to fill it out to the best of your abilities. There are three sections to the GA- demographic questions, activities, and essays.

Please note that ALL questions MUST be answered fully in order to even be considered for a scholarship. We will NOT consider anyone who does not fully complete the application. This means that if you do not answer even one of the essay questions your application will not be considered.

Now that we’ve gotten that bit out-of-the-way let’s talk about best practices. The first section of demographic information is pretty simple and straightforward. We recommend using your WIT email address on the application itself.

The second section is all about activities. Now these can range from on campus involvement, high school activities, Co-Op’s, Internships, jobs, anything really! Just list the relevant items that you are doing while enrolled at WIT.

The third section is arguably the most important the essays. There are four different essay questions that, again, must ALL be fully answered to be considered. Grammar and spelling do count towards your consideration so we recommend writing your essays in a program like Word so that you can run the checks on the essays. The scholarship committee uses these essays to get a feel for who you are, your goals, and why you would benefit from this award so be honest but also remember that you are applying for scholarship funds so appropriate language is key. There is a minimum character requirement (150 characters) but feel free to write until you feel the question is answered fully.

The cool thing about Academic Works is that once you hit that submit button you will be auto-matched to various scholarships based on your qualifications. It is still important to go through the scholarships to apply directly to some awards as some of the scholarships require additional information that is not covered in the general application.

Once you’ve applied to all the scholarships you feel you would be a good match for and you have fully submitted your application there isn’t much else you need to do. Review will begin over the summer and awarding takes some time on the committee part. You can expect to hear back in the fall semester.

We also highly recommend that students look to outside scholarships to assist with your balance. As we’ve mentioned in our past few posts, SALT is such a great resource for students on how to find scholarships that best suit their needs. We recommend starting with this article on “Where to Find Scholarships” as a great jumping off point. If you are an International student check out this video to help you in your search as it can be a bit more complicated.

As always if you have questions feel free to contact us!

See you next time!