SFS is Coming to YOU?
As prospective students, many ask questions concerning the financial aspects of college. Parents and students all around the world wonder “Can I afford college now?”. And the answer to that question can be kind of tricky without the guidance of professionals. That is where Student Financial Service (SFS) swoops in to help you answer all finance-related questions.
Normally, the SFS office is located in Sumers Welcome Center on the East End of campus, which is quite the trek from the South 40. I, being less active and a little lazy, often resorted to phone calls or emails when I actually wanted to speak to my financial aid counselor in person. Over Christmas break of 2019-20, SFS gave us the Christmas present we did not know that we needed- SFS drop-in hours in the Danforth University Center (DUC)! This new initiative has made it much easier to seek financial help at a central location. I am excited to see the positive impact this initiative will have on the relationship between SFS counselors and students.
As a housewarming gesture, I gave the counselors a visit to answer some frequently asked questions among the student body.
Q & A w/ SFS Counselor Valerie Jensen
Paul: Q1. What made you want to for Student Financial Services?
Jensen: During college, I did federal work-study in the financial aid office, which sparked my interest in higher education. After graduating, I worked in admissions at Webster before switching to Saint Louis University where I took on a hybrid position as a liaison between admissions and financial aid. I enjoyed these positions but was disappointed that I never got to build lasting relationships as I only worked with prospective students. Finally, I arrive at WashU where for the first time, I get to work with both prospective and current students which has allowed for better relationships with my students.
Paul: Q2. How does financial aid apply to off-campus living situations?
Jensen: Living off-campus does not affect your financial aid award. Counselors build a student’s personalized budget using typical costs for tuition, silver meal plan, modern double and other un/expected expenses. One’s award is the leftover difference between Estimated Financial Contribution and the total cost of attendance. Furthermore, the school bills students for everything besides their housing, and the student receives the difference as a refund that is meant to cover their living accommodations off-campus. The only requirement is that students must have an off-campus meal plan.
Paul: Q3. How does financial work for Study Abroad programs?
Jensen: If a student is doing a WashU approved Study Abroad program during fall/spring, he/she will be charged the same tuition, receive the same financial aid package (minus work-study), and be billed the same through their WashU account. The billing may depend on how the overseas university wants to be paid. For Summer programs, however, financial aid packages are not transferrable. Therefore, students must either apply to scholarships, take out loans, or pay out of pocket to attend.
Paul: Q4. Is financial aid taxable and to what degree?
Jensen: According to the IRS, any financial award that is worth more than tuition and mandatory fees is potentially taxable. I recommend that students talk to a tax professional ahead of time to find out what they may owe. If the IRS requires taxes one on scholarship but the family cannot pay, the student should contact SFS for assistance.