Harvester Highlight: Take loans and save them for university

Reporter Sonia Hernandez spoke with financial aid adviser Geneva Lawson about the best money practices for students and why Lawson does what she does every day.

Geneva Lawson

Job title: Financial Aid advisor

Hometown: Austin

Q. Why are you working in the financial aid office?

A. I love to work with students. Students are our future. I feel like I’m in a good spot here, I get to explain financial aid to them. And I like what I do.

Q. What’s a common question many students have when they come see you?

A. “Where’s my money?” A lot of the times they want to know when they’re gonna get their next disbursement or if they’re on suspension or just typical questions, like where their money is.

Q. Many students are afraid of falling into debt. Is this a plausible fear?

A. It is, and we do have a lot of students who are [in debt], but they need that money and need those loans to go to school. What’s good with financial aid and what’s good about going to school is it’s a guarantee that student loans are available as long as you’re in school.

Q. Should students take out loans? Is it risky?

A. We try to recommend them to take that money to save up and go to university. Here it’s cheaper, but there, it’s going to be more. So we try to tell them to weigh out their options.

Q. There seems to be some confusion among the student body where they think they have to pay back financial aid. Is that correct?

A. No. The only time you have to pay financial aid back is if you’re not meeting the criteria or dropping classes. A lot of times students will drop [their classes]. We try to make sure that they don’t but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Loans, you do have to pay back.

Q. Have you ever helped inspire a student?

A. Yes, many. When I worked at Cedar Valley, I was mentioned a lot for reaching out to a lot of the students that were undocumented. They mentioned me when they were valedictorians of their college because I inspired them through their walk. That’s what I’m here for, to serve the students and do the best I can.

Q. Is there something pertaining to financial aid that you wish students knew before coming to you for help?

A. Educating themselves about financial aid. We’re here to educate them, but there’s a lot to learn. You’ll have students come here and they’ve been here a couple years, and they still don’t know [about financial aid]. Those students should have an idea of what’s going on and prepare themselves to do FAFSA every year. You have to apply for financial aid every year.

Q.Do you plan to stay here at Eastfield for a long time?

A. Yes, if possible. I mean, I would like to grow financially, get a better education and make a little extra cash. However, I love working in financial aid.

Q. Is there anything else that I should know?

A. The students are the reason why I have my job, and I try to do the best I can for them. Of course, I don’t always give them the answer they want or positive information, but I want them to leave here with an understanding of what’s going on.

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