Financial Aid Workshops Answer Questions about Returning to College

Graduate NWA will host five events next month as part of Financial Aid April, a Northwest Arkansas effort to assist adults who have some college credit but no degree with returning to school to complete their education.

Three of the financial aid workshops will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2. Those three events will be in Silas Hunt Hall on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, in Collegiate Center at Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale, and at John Brown University’s Rogers campus.

Two more workshops will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 27 in Burns Hall on the NorthWest Arkansas Community College campus in Bentonville and in the Baldor Technology Center at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

Volunteers at the workshops will help attendees fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and answer individual questions about how to pay for a college degree or technical certification.

Ten people who attend a workshop and enter a drawing will receive $500 in tuition reimbursement scholarships. A similar tuition reimbursement program that was part of last year’s Come Back to College Fair is helping 10 students who enrolled this semester at Northwest Arkansas colleges.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 70,000 people living in Benton, Crawford, Sebastian and Washington counties have some college credit but no college degree, and the workshops will target those individuals, said Stacey Sturner, the Graduate NWA program manager for the Northwest Arkansas Council.

Additional information about the financial aid workshops is available at the Graduate NWA website.

“While the events will be on specific college campuses, it’s the goal of Graduate NWA to share financial aid information that is applicable to attending any college,” Sturner said. “We know the question of how to pay for college is one of the most challenging aspects of completing a degree, and these workshops are intended to provide answers from experts on how to pay for college.”

The Northwest Arkansas Council and higher education partners created the Graduate NWA program in 2012. The partners include the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, John Brown University in Siloam Springs, NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest in Fayetteville.

Graduate NWA is designed to provide information about Northwest Arkansas higher education opportunities and to encourage local residents to restart and complete their education. A study by The College Board showed people with a college degree earn on average about 66 percent more in their career than a high school graduate, leading to a higher quality of life. Additionally, first generation college graduates establish attending college as the norm within their families, increasing the likelihood that their children will be graduates someday.

Moreover, increasing degree completion gives companies confidence that they’ll be able to attract the workforce they need if they expand in or relocate to Northwest Arkansas.

College students leave school before completing degrees for many reasons, including family obligations, financial challenges and poor academic performance. Graduate NWA is designed to assist those who want to return to school and complete their education.