Local Program Assisting Students in Finding Money for College

With financial uncertainty across the country and world, young people are desperate to find ways to pay for college without accumulating too much debt. Area financial experts said there are more ways than you might realize to pay for higher education without going broke. Recent studies showed student debt continued to rise. Between 2009 and 2010, it went up more than $1,000. Here in West Tennessee there Is one group whose goal is to help students pay for school. “A lot of students really do believe, I think, there’s a negative connotation with any college anywhere. That college equals money, equals I don’t care, and that’s not the case,” said REDI mentor, Bart Barker. “The REDI program helps students find that money, money they don’t even realize is out there.” “Before we started our program, we found out in one year alone, there were over a million dollars that was left on the table in financial aid to students, just because they didn’t fill out the proper paperwork or submit it on time,” said executive director of REDI, Joe Barker. Mentors said, if the student does not claim the available money, someone else will. Some students said they debated whether to even go to college, because the money just is not there. “At first, I was having trouble with the financial part, that’s what really was holding me back,” said college student, Saetea Smith. When students become aware of other ways to pay for school, whether through financial aid or scholarships, mentors said this may lower the amount of students coming out of college in debt. Joe Barker said it is important for students to study hard because the higher their grade point average, the more dollars are available for them to go to school. Barker said West Tennessee has one of the lowest levels of post secondary education in the state.

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