How to plan a Halloween Party on a Budget

Ah fall. Such a wonderful time of year. Crisp air, beautiful leaves, jackets, scarves, boots (really all cold weather clothes), and our favorite holiday, Halloween. There are so many great things about Halloween but our personal favorite are costume parties. We’re here to help you figure out how to throw an awesome Halloween party without breaking the bank.

First step in any Halloween celebration is to figure out your costume. There are tons of costume stores all around Boston but they can get pretty pricy for something you’ll (probably) wear just once. Maybe this is the year to try a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) costume! TONS of options are out there and most sites will even provide helpful step-by-step instructions on how to create your costume. Try using clothes you already have in your closet and finding a way to incorporate those into your costume.  A quick Google search brought up 12.7 million results on DIY costumes so hopefully there is some inspiration out there for everyone.

If a DIY costume is not up your alley, you could host a costume swap before the party “officially” begins to trade costumes with your friends from previous years!

Our next recommendation for keeping your party in budget is to schedule your actual Halloween party the day, or weekend, after Halloween. Think of all the discounted candy you can buy to shower your guests with and you’ll get to continue to ride the Halloween spirit train (no pun intended).

Speaking of food, there are some great Halloween activities that can also feed your guests. If Pinterest can give you any idea there are literally hundreds of awesome Halloween treats you can have your guests decorate or participate in, but our top three are: Bobbing for apples, candy apple decoration, and lollypop ghosts.

Now that we’ve gotten food, activities, and costumes covered the next hot ticket item is decorations. Craft stores will often put Halloween decorations on sale right before and after Halloween so while pickings may be slimmer, you can get great discounts on awesome products. Small pumpkins bought in bulk spread out throughout your party space can give your home a quick and cheap fall feeling. If you’re feeling extra creative you can get some cheap paint or use a sharpie and put different faces on all of the pumpkins! Another great decoration idea are paper ghosts. There are a few different ways to accomplish paper ghosts, you can use standard white printing paper, tissue paper, or even cotton balls! Whatever you decide on, they are a cheap festive way to tie any space together.

There are TONS of other ways to keep your Halloween party on a budget. For assistance with crafting a budget for any time of year check out SALT Money!

Until next time!

Mady & Katie

Prior Prior Year or PPY

Now you may have heard those three magic words in recent times and filed them away in some portion of your brain to access later. Well, shockingly enough, it is now time to access those files and prepare yourself for the 2017/2018 FAFSA. Yes, you read that right.

About a year ago, President Obama made some small (aka large) changes to the FAFSA in terms of timeline and availability. Instead of the January 1st launch day for FAFSA, the FAFSA will now be available October 1st. Yes. October. 1st. Instead of using prior year income (meaning for 2016 FAFSA you used 2015 income data) the FAFSA will now utilize income information from two years prior.

Now you see how we got the name Prior-Prior Year.

You may be wondering what the benefits are to using income information from two years prior, rather than one year. Well the top benefit (in our opinion) is that your taxes will already be filed when you go to do the FAFSA. You will no longer have to estimate your income information and then go back into the FAFSA after you’ve filed to update your information. Even better, is that for most people they should be able to use data retrieval and directly import their data into the FAFSA.

For the upcoming FAFSA year, there will be a bit of a unique situation where the same tax info is used for two years. This makes it even more important to update your FAFSA with the correct figures so you don’t run into any issues in October!!

Federal Student Aid made a handy little chart which will help you visualize what FAFSA you need to submit depending on when you plan on enrolling

fafsa

It is important to note that here at Wentworth our timelines aren’t really going to be changing. We still have to wait on other information from the Department of Education before we are able to put awards available so even though FAFSA will be out in October students can still expect to receive their award info between March- June depending on if you are a new or returning student.

Want more info? We have a plethora of helpful resources provided below!

https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-changes

https://community.saltmoney.org/community/paying-for-college/blog/2016/8/22

http://wit.financialaidtv.com/#playlist-13876:video-0

Until next time!

Mady

 

A Day in the Life: The SSC Blogs

Up next in our series of staff profiles is Stephanie Reynolds. Stephanie has been working at Wentworth for (semi-close) to a year now! She has a bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater State University and a Master’s in Education for School Counseling from UMass Boston. She holds a license as a Massachusetts school counselor for grades 5-12 so baaaaaaasically she is equipped to handle any situation.

 

Okay, I won’t leave you waiting any longer. Here are her answers from our interview!

 

What do you love most about Wentworth?

 

Aside from the great education, what I love most about Wentworth is the people and the culture here on campus. I think students really find their “fit” here. I think it is easy to find other students with similar interests and there are so many organizations on campus that students can feel really connected with their peers.

 

In financial aid, I have been lucky to work with such a great group of counselors who really enjoy what they do. We are a group of 9 people all with different personalities but everyone works well together to provide the best service for our students and their families. Every day I look forward to seeing my coworkers and collaborating together!

 

What piece of advice would you offer to a student?

I would tell students to become informed consumers when it comes to their school finances. Don’t just have your parent or guardian handle everything for you. You want to make sure that you know what you are signing up for. Also, students should read as much as you can about loans and make sure you understand fully what you are taking out. You will need to pay your loans back and sometimes the amounts may have an effect on your finances after you graduate. You might have to put off getting an apartment or buying a house while you are trying to make loan payments!

Also, everything we send out is through email so make sure you check your Wentworth email account daily! And last of all, make sure you get involved as much as you can on campus. You want to take the best out of your college experience!

What are your job specialties?

I cover a caseload of students with last names R-V. I also help with Boston Public School scholarships and I work with the Perkins Loan program.

What is something someone may not know about you?

I am ambidextrous. I write primarily left handed but can play many sports using my right hand.

So that’s Stephanie, as you can see she is pretty awesome. Stay tuned for our next staff profile!

 

Until next time!

 

Mady

Ready for launch! FA GetAnswers

Here in the Financial Aid Office, we strive to educate the Wentworth community about all things financial aid in hopes of creating a greater sense of financial literacy amongst the community. From SALT to financial counselors to this blog we are always looking for new and exciting ways to educate.

We are so excited to be introducing Financial Aid TV GetAnswers! GetAnwers is an online library of short video clips that communicate complex financial aid information on demand in an easy to understand style. The videos are about 60-90 seconds long and range a vast number of topics from financial aid, financial literacy, loans, grants, veteran’s and more! We even have videos that are translated in Spanish and ones that’ll be of interest to your parents.

You can check out the entire series of videos here: http://wit.financialaidtv.com/ 

As you can see there are TONS of topics covered in these videos. If you find yourself at 1am curious about financial aid issues (totally happens all the time) you don’t have to wait for our office to open anymore.

The site is organized either by video or playlist. If there is a particular topic you want to know more about there may be a playlist to cover it!

As always, the financial aid office is happy to address any questions you may have so please feel free to reach out to your counselor anytime!

Until next time!

Mady


					

A Day in the Life: The SSC Blogs

As a refresher we have been working on blog posts all about our amazing staff members! We do these for a few reasons, first being that our office is packed full of awesome people, but second that we hope these posts will help you figure out who the best person to reach out to will be!

We did our first post on Katie Paquin (you can read that here!) but next up is another one of our financial aid counselors, Derek Lewis. Derek is a transplat from California that arrived in Boston for school about 12 years ago and never left! (Who can blame him? We are in such an awesome city) He has two degrees in French Horn Performance (BM and MM) but has been working in higher ed for a number of years. He was previously the Operations Assistant in the Admissions office here at Wentworth! You can still spot him playing his French horn all around Boston and we hope it’s the color blue! He enjoys making fermented pickles in the summer and roasting large pieces of meat in the winter.

What do you love most about Wentworth?

The proximity to the orange line. Also, working next to Dan Roark (one of our awesome registrar office members!). But seriously…

The staff and faculty for sure. Although I’m not a student here I do work with faculty and staff daily. I’ve had a few instances where I’ve approached faculty with questions about my own personal hobby projects and they have always been willing to take the time and help. It’s great to see a community that is devoted to all aspects of education.

What piece of advice would you offer to a student?

Make some friends and colleagues outside of your applied major. You never know when an opportunity for a collaboration will show itself down the road.

What are your job specialties?

In addition to being a financial aid counselor I am the Student Employment Coordinator.

What is something someone may not know about you?

My family tree has me linked to royalty in Luxembourg…I’m hoping to get a haunted castle out of it sometime in the future.

Final question- give us a fun fact about yourself.

I cure my own bacon and pancetta

We hoped you enjoyed learning about Derek! We will continue these series of posts throughout 2016 so keep an eye out!

Until next time!

Mady

 

Scholarships 101- Redux

Last year the scholarship applications was an amazing success with over 300 awards given out to students. We almost tripled the number of submitted applications and are hoping to make those numbers go even higher this year!

 

This post may seem a little familiar to you but that’s because we posted something very similar last year when our endowed scholarships opened up but some things have changed between this year and last so even if it seems familiar we definitely recommend giving it another read- through!

 

Wentworth’s various endowed scholarships are now 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 15/16 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. Keep in mind that even if you fill out your application but don’t hit that submit button it won’t process through and you will not be considered.

Additionally no late applications will be accepted. The deadline for these awards is June 1st– that gives you close to 6 months to complete. They close at 11:59pm on the deadline date which means come 12:01 on June 2nd they will no longer be available.This is an automated function and no exceptions will be made.

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.

*One important change to note on the question regarding your classification- we have added additional options for CPCE and Graduate students. Please reflect your current status as accurately as possible as it will help determine your eligibility for various scholarships.

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. We limit it to five so pick the most relevant to your application!

The third section is 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 application also times out after a period of time so in order to not lose your progress we recommend writing all essays in a Word or text doc.

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 word requirement (150 words) – this is an increase from last year so be sure to pay attention to your word count- rather than character count. That being said feel free to write until you feel the question is answered fully.

If you feel as though you are struggling with your writing abilities The Learning Center has professional writing tutors that can assist with grammar and sentence structure. You can find more information about their office here

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!

-Mady

 

Don’t be a SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress that is)

If you receive financial aid you may have heard the term SAP thrown around before. SAP refers to Satisfactory Academic Progress. SAP is a federal and state regulation that requires students to be maintaining academic progress towards completing their degree. There are two components of SAP and not meeting either one of them can result in a suspension of financial aid.

So you may be wondering what are the components of SAP? Well first, as expected, there is a GPA requirement. We created a helpful chart below for reference as GPA requirements range from whether or not you are a day student, undergraduate CPCE, or graduate student.

Total Credits Earned Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average Required For SAP
Undergraduate Associate/Baccalaureate CPCE Undergraduate Baccalaureate  Day Graduate
0-31 1.85 1.75 3.0
32+ 2.0 2.0 3.0

 

The other requirement comes from your attempted vs earned credits. Student’s must complete (with a passing grade that is) at least 66.67% of your courses attempted. So what exactly does that mean? Let’s say that you are enrolled in four courses. You withdraw from one of the courses, fail another, but pass the remaining two. Since you withdrew and failed one course those would not count as earned credits; however the courses you passed do. This would mean you would have a 50% ratio of attempted vs earned credits.

It is important to keep in mind that anything below that 66.67% mark is considered unsatisfactory. Even if you are sitting at 66.65% it still will not be meeting the criteria. Same thing goes for your GPA. If you sit at a 1.99 as sophomore, junior, or senior it will not be making the cut.

Another important thing to note is that all credits taken at Wentworth count towards SAP, regardless if your change your major. If you found yourself doing poorly in your original major, changed and are doing better there is still a chance you will not be meeting SAP.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are not doing well in school there are options for you. The financial aid office will accept SAP appeals from anyone not meeting satisfactory academic progress. Please be aware that submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval. You must have a sufficient reason to not be meeting SAP according to the regulations and our appeals process. We also highly recommend talking with professors and using the resources on campus if you need assistance.

For more information regarding SAP we highly recommend this awesome article from SALT Money.

As always feel free to reach out to us with questions! Until next time!

-Mady