An array of massage oils set against a backdrop of flowers

All Posts by Stephanie King

About Stephanie King

Stephanie King is the Assistant Director and Finance Administrator at SSMT.

Back To School

Heading back to school can be stressful for both kids and parents. Scrambling for school supplies, shoes, backpacks and uniforms; meeting teachers; hauling multiple boxes of crayons, scissors, and paper to classrooms – all take a toll! Yet, while the slower pace of summer is enjoyable, the consistency of the school year can provide relief for some families, and allow time for new projects.

So what about going back to school yourself, even if you have your own kids in school? The majority of SSMT students have children under 18 at home, and they not only find it manageable, but many also say their kids are inspired by seeing their parents studying and pursuing their dream. Our next classes start in September, so you can get through the August rush with your kids before focusing on your own education.

Our massage therapy students who attend day classes either take advantage of a Before-Care Program at their child’s school or they have a family member drop the child off in the mornings. Many schools in Manatee and Sarasota counties have low-or no-cost Before School programs. SSMT day students finish class at 1:00 – before their children have been dismissed for the day. Most evening students have help with their kids from family members while they attend classes – just three evenings per week.

Your children can also affect your own financial aid eligibility. The number of children you support is reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and impacts your grant and scholarship eligibility. The SSMT administration and staff want to see every student succeed. We want to help you figure out if this is the right path for you and make sure you’re set up for success, whatever your situation may be. Having kids go back to school can be a great time to consider enriching your own life as well.

Forbearance

If you’re having trouble making your student loan payments, there are many ways to find relief. The Department of Education provides a variety of repayment plans to keep you on track without causing you hardship. Sometimes that’s not enough, and you need to stop payments altogether for a period of time. That’s called forbearance.

There are two types of forbearance: mandatory and discretionary, and it can last up to 12 months. You will find that your FFELP or Direct Loan lenders are not like your auto loan lenders or credit card companies, in that they often want you to succeed and will try to help you through difficult times.

Lenders are required to provide a mandatory forbearance if you meet certain qualifications, which include:

  • Your monthly loan payment is 20% or more of your gross monthly income
  • You are serving in a medical or dental residency and meet specific requirements
  • You are teaching in a program that qualifies for teacher loan forgiveness
  • You are serving in an organization such as AmeriCorps
  • You are called into active military duty
  • You qualify for partial repayment under the U.S. Dept. Of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program.

A discretionary forbearance is one that is granted to you by your lender, even when they aren’t required to do so by regulations. It’s smarter for lenders to grant you a discretionary forbearance and reevaluate your situation in 6 or 12 months than to let you go into default and send you to collections.  Most lenders will approve forbearance for illness, unexpected expenses, or financial hardship, even if your loan payment is less than 20% of your gross monthly income.

Your loan interest, on both Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans, continues to accrue while you’re in forbearance, but (unlike going into default) forbearance status will not affect your credit score. The interest will be added to your principal balance and then you’ll be charged interest upon interest as time passes. If you can afford to, make interest-only payments on your loan during forbearance.

Start the process by contacting your loan servicer. If you’re an SSMT grad and don’t know who to contact, just ask us and we’ll be happy to look it up for you.

 

How Life Changes May Affect Financial Aid

Have you recently been laid off?  Changed jobs?  Got divorced?  If any of these life events (or a few others) have happened since you filed your 2015 tax return, then your real-world financial picture may be different than what appears on your financial aid application (FAFSA).  Maybe you’re only making half of what you did in 2015.  Maybe you’re unemployed.  Maybe you’re now separated or divorced which has resulted in a loss of income for your household.  Whatever the situation, your financial aid office might be able to help you. Continue reading

Applying for Federal Financial Aid Just Got Simpler!

There are two new important changes to the 2017-2018 application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Both should make filling out the application easier and give you the ability to see your entire financial aid package sooner!

Student Aid ApplicationFirst, the 2017-2018 financial aid award year doesn’t start until July 1, 2017, but now you can fill out your FAFSA as soon as October 1, 2016.  We used to have to wait until January!  This means you can see your entire financial aid picture sooner.

The second change is that you’ll use your 2015 tax return Continue reading