There is no place like Adams State for financial aid

(12-16-2008)

student receive financial aid image

Ezy Ulibarri assists Kristin Putnam, seated, and Sofia Monroe, standing.

The world-wide economic situation has not left college campuses untouched and students at Adams State College are no exception. "Our family income was zero," said Kristin Putnam, sophomore from Canton, Texas, after her father was laid off a week before the fall 2008 semester.

She went immediately to the Financial Aid Office and sought out Israel "Ezy" Ulibarri, senior counselor at the Adams State One Stop Student Services Center. "Ezy helped me and my family. I did not even take out a loan this semester and after paying tuition and fees, I had money for books."

"Through the use of professional judgment, Ezy can make necessary adjustments to students' eligibility for student financial aid, based on extenuating circumstances," said Phil Schroeder, director of Adams State financial aid.

Putnam is not alone in her financial concerns. Bettia Seler, freshman from San Antonio, Texas; and Sofia Monroe, junior from Pueblo, Colo. are also among the many Adams State students whose higher education goals were threatened when a parent's income dropped dramatically.

Ezy makes a difference

Putnam said she was a little concerned when her father, a 22-year employee of Electronic Data Systems in Texas, lost his job so close to the beginning of the semester, She had already submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), used to calculate federal grant awards based on students' - or their parents, if they are still dependents - federal income tax.

"Ezy was a lifesaver," Putnam said. She said her freshman year she "went to Ezy in tears." Still owing money on her tuition bill and out of money, she felt hopeless. Ulibarri found she was eligible for an academic competitiveness grant.

Putnam is an Adams State student ambassador, and secretary for the Education Club on campus; she lives in the dorms. She said she chose Adams State because it was affordable and to "experience the winters. I did some research and found Adams State was less expensive than paying in-state tuition at a Texas university." Putnam enjoys the personal attention at Adams State. "You can go down the hall and say hi to a professor and they know who you are."

"Nearly all Adams State students receive some form of financial aid assistance," Schroeder said. "Our One Stop Student Services counselors have assisted many families affected by the financial crisis. In the challenges of today's economy, it is good to know you have a way to get the help you need to attend ASC without worrying. Students with extenuating financial circumstances or who might experience a change in income, family size, marital status or loss of employment, should give the One Stop a call."

Friendly, helpful advice

A junior business administration/marketing/mass communications major, Monroe competes on the Adams State cross country and the indoor and outdoor track and field teams. She is also interning with the local television station, KENY, and has a work-study job at Rex Activity Center.

Monroe's mother, a pharmaceutical representative for Wyeth, was laid off the beginning of the summer 2007. "My athletic scholarship was not enough," Monroe said. "I went to Ezy and told him I was going to be homeless."

Ulibarri secured a Pell grant for Monroe. A federal program, the Pell grant was established to help students afford higher education. Awards are based on a student's economic status. For the current 2008-09 award year the Pell grant is $4731.

"Ezy saved my butt. He is my man." Besides paying off the rest of her tuition and fees, Monroe said there was money for books and expenses. "My mom is a single parent, and I did not want to ask her for help."

She added, Ezy is "so amazing" and she never hesitates to ask for help. He is quick to help and doesn't become "irritated even when I am panicked. I do not know what I would do without him."

According Schroeder, 58 percent of all Adams State students are Pell eligible. "We have one of the highest percentage of Pell eligible students in the state." He said the Federal Family Educational Loan Program continues to be stable. "We have not seen any change in loan availability for our students." Current interest rates are 6 percent for the subsidized loan and 6.8 percent for the unsubsidized loan.

Seler initially worked out a payment plan for her tuition, but when her father was laid-off from his construction job, he told her they had "no money to pay." She, too, went to Ulibarri, who helped her change her status on the FAFSA and receive a Pell grant that included a refund after paying all tuition and fees. Ulibarri had her write a letter explaining the situation. "I don't have to pay the money back," she said.

"I had applied for loans, but was denied because I have no credit." Seler can continue to pursue her educational goals in geology. She said she came to Adams State because she "wanted to be a student and not a number."

By Linda Relyea