NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – If you need money for college, one of the most important forms to complete is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Tennessee State University is making the process easier for prospective students and their parents.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is holding a series of virtual workshops to meet students where they are and walk them through what can sometimes be an overwhelming task.
“Virtual FAFSA Hour” allows new admitted students who have not done a FAFSA, and those who have not completed their financial aid file, to directly interact with financial aid counselors for assistance. The virtual workshop is also open to continuing students who have not renewed their FAFSA.
“This was really nice and different,” said Nicole Reese, who joined the call from her living room in Park Ford, Illinois, with her incoming freshman son, Gabriel Reese. Nicole has been through financial aid offices before with an older son, but “the experience was nothing like TSU.”
“We got a chance to sit face-to-face with these wonderful people, they were patient and knew what they were doing, we got all of our questions answered, and we got a chance to hear the president of the university. I am ready for my child to come to TSU.”
Gabriel agreed. “I do like TSU,” said the graduating senior from Rich East High School, who visited TSU several times when a cousin attended the university. “I thought their answers were very thorough and they were extremely helpful. I am very excited.”
With a goal of reaching about 3,000 prospective students about completing their financial aid requirements, organizers say a stream of students and parents are calling in and taking advantage of the Virtual FAFSA Hour, which is held for one hour twice a day over four days.
“Welcome to TSU, and good afternoon. I am thrilled and just so happy to greet all of you new TSU students who plan on coming this fall,” said TSU President Glenda Glover, who spoke via Zoom. “We just can’t wait to receive you with open arms. Right now, we are coming to you virtually. I know that there are some issues or questions concerning FAFSA. We are here to answer those questions.”
Financial aid officials said the Virtual FAFSA Hour, first of its kind at TSU, is intended to ensure that qualified students have access to all available funding sources, while remaining safe and secure in their home with their families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In our efforts to keep everyone safe and adhering to the call to social distancing, it is a benefit for all of us to participate in the virtual opportunities TSU is offering,” said Dr. Angela Bryant, assistant vice president for financial aid. “With regard to financial aid specifically, what better way to secure funding for fall 2021 than to take advantage of the FAFSA Hour. We are here to help these students meet their financial needs for school.”
In addition to federal loan and assistance programs, TSU offers many different avenues of financial help to prospective students, including state, local and institutional grants or scholarship opportunities. These include the 250-Mile Radius Tuition Rate for students from high schools in surrounding states, the HOPE scholarship for Tennessee residents, the Academic High Achiever Scholarship, the TSU Academic Work Scholarship, the TSU Building Bridge Grant, and several others.
Diamond Parish, of Nashville, is an architectural engineering major and a returning freshman. She called in from her bedroom to resolve issues with her “TSU account.”
“In no time my issued was resolved, I got the answer I wanted,” said Parish, adding that she saw “very little” difference between her in-person experience in the financial aid office and the virtual call-in. “The way they were doing it, it felt like I was right next to them.”
Like Parish, Tyeisha Weeks, from Chicago, who wants to study physical therapy, also called in to the Virtual FAFSA Hour from her bedroom. She had already sent in her form but was following up to make sure everything was in order. She was not disappointed.
“They were just so helpful,” said Weeks, a graduating senior from John Marshall Metropolitan High School in Chicago, who heard about TSU from alumni and from newspapers. “Everybody was very nice. They took us through the steps and they were very patient.”
Terrance Izzard, associate vice president for admissions and recruitment, said the series of virtual FAFSA workshops was intended to make it easy for students in the midst of travel restrictions.
“We are excited about you coming to Tennessee State University,” he told callers. “Our team in enrollment and financial aid work closely together to make sure we are here so you don’t get stuck in the process. We want to let you know that you are our priority.”
The Offices of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid have planned several other virtual workshops to help ease students’ transition during this pandemic.
For more information on financial aid at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/financial_aid/
Featured Photo: Nicole Reese, left, and her son Gabriel Reese call in from Park Ford, Illinois.
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.