Letter to the Editor

Adults can go 'back to school'

Sunday, July 25, 2010

To the Editor:

Dear fellow residents of Clay County:

It's late July and local stores have "back to school" supplies in stock and the "back to school" sales are starting.

We know what that means for children of our community. As adults, though, how often do we think about "back to school" for us?

The thought may cross your mind now and then, but you may never get around to it because of your very busy life.

However, taking time to plan your return to school/college will pay off. And I do mean, "pay off" literally.

The average college graduate earns three times more money than the individual who did not attend college.

There is a grant available called the Frank O'Bannon Grant Program that you may be eligible for. This grant is funded by our tax dollars and authorized by the Indiana General Assembly. Grant money is free to the recipient -- you don't have to pay it back.

The O'Bannon Grant can be used at any accredited college or university in Indiana, including the ones close to us, such as Ivy Tech, Indiana State University, Indiana University, Harrison College (formerly Indiana Business), ITT, etc.

College isn't just for 18-year-olds. It's for everyone at anytime of your life. If you are interested in going "back to school," decide what you want to study and which college may be best for you. Then apply to that college.

Between January and March 1, 2011, complete your FAFSA (Financial Aid) form and mail it so the folks at FAFSA receive it by March 10, 2011. Apply for the O'Bannon Grant if you meet the criteria listed below.

If you need to earn your GED to qualify, call the LEAAP Center and they will get you started.

Remember the old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." If your goal is to return to school, start planning now.

If you are worried about the economy, this may be the best way to help "economy proof" your life, your household and your community.

Frank O'Bannon Grant Program

Frank O'Bannon Grant (formerly the Indiana Higher Education Grant) Program, designed to provide access for Hoosier students to attend eligible postsecondary institutions, receives its funding through appropriations made by the Indiana General Assembly.

The grants, targeted to tuition and regularly assessed fees, are "need-based" and do not require repayment. Due to variations in appropriations, the number of filers and the "need' of the filer base, the dollar value of state grants will vary from year to year.

Frank O'Bannon Grant (formerly Indiana Higher Education Grant) includes both the Higher Education award and the Freedom of Choice award. To qualify for state grant consideration, the applicant must be an Indiana resident by Dec. 31, the year prior to applying (Dec. 31, 2010, for the 2011-12 school year), be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, be a high school graduate or hold a GED, attend or plan to attend an eligible college or university, be enrolled or plan to enroll in a course of study leading to an associates of first bachelors degree, be a full-time student, or plan to enroll as a full-time student, (The state grant defines full-time as at least 12 credit hours per term), and file an application (FAFSA) -- received by March 10 of the academic year preceding the academic year the applicant plans to enroll.

FAFSA is the application for the Frank O'Bannon Grant. The FAFSA filing deadline to apply for state aid for the 2011-12 school year: Received by the federal processor after Jan. 1, 2011, but on or before March 10, 2011.

Any issues with the FAFSA need to be corrected by May 15, 2011.

Note: Questions about this program should be directed to the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana, Grant Division, W462 Indiana Government Center South, 402 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, Ind., 46204, (317-232-2350 or grants@ssaci.in.gov).

Amy Adams,