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A Student’s Guide to Financial Aid: Tomorrow’s wedding to reap benefits

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Kris Arellanes and Season Degner had originally planned to be married after graduation, but plans changed due to a lack of financial aid. Tomorrow, Arellanes and Degner will be wed with hopes that marital status will result in larger award letters. / photo by Starr Carroll

Kris Arellanes and Season Degner had originally planned to be married after graduation, but plans changed due to a lack of financial aid. Tomorrow, Arellanes and Degner will be wed with hopes that marital status will result in larger award letters. / photo by Starr Carroll

By Brandi E. Baumeister

Season Degner and Kris Arellanes met as sophomores in high school when they were 15 years old. Arellanes asked Degner to a Christmas Formal Dance on Dec. 18, 1991. She agreed and the rest is history.

Degner and Arellanes planned to get married on July 18, 1998. They have been dating for over five years and got engaged on Aug. 22, 1995.

Because of their recent financial aid situation at the University, Degner and Arellanes have moved their wedding up to tomorrow, to receive marriage benefits.

“Our need for financial aid is greater because we will be independent of our parents and dependent on each other in our household of two,” said Degner.

Degner and Arellanes will know how much financial need they will have this year because the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms are due on March 2.

Because of the changes in the financial plans and their perceived burdens, Arellanes will not attend ULV in the spring and will return in fall semester.

“I have had financial problems every since my second year here,” said Arellanes. “I had to take out more loans and make more payments.”

Degner said, “Kris had no problems his first year.”

Both Degner and Arellanes do not know how much they owe exactly in loans. But Degner said, “It’s probably in the thousands range.”

Arellanes recently gave his leave of absence notice and said, “I met with someone. They [financial aid] didn’t really help me that much, but they gave me an application for a Parent Loan.

“My mom is a single parent and she didn’t qualify before for the Parent Loan because her income is low,” he said.

Arellanes said that he pays the school $549 every month and hopes the University will not make him pay his loans back until after graduation, even though he is taking a leave of absence.

Student loans become due when a student drops below halftime status, whether it is through a leave of absence or graduation. Students are given a six month grace period after graduation before loan payments begin.

Degner filled out forms to state that she was moving out of the dorms. “Housing said to me, ‘Just fill out the note and she’ll call you back,'”she said.

Degner and Arellanes said they have not received a call back.

Because they are moving out of the dorms, Degner and Arellanes must show proof of their marriage, but are not able to until after the spring semester has started.

“We have to show the marriage license because we signed a contract to stay for the fall and spring semesters. There are only three priorities to move out: marriage, financial burdens and health problems,” said Degner.

“In general, people must show proof of why they want to leave housing,” said Derek Vergara, director of housing and residential life.

He continued to say that he hopes students read and understand the license agreement upon signing it.

However, Degner said she is unable to register for next semester until her financial aid award is revised and she knows how much she owes the University.

“I don’t even know who my financial aid adviser is,” said Degner.

Arellanes said, “It is very hard to get an appointment with them [financial aid].”

“I feel like they are just leaving me hanging,” he said.

Senior Makayla Benjamin, housing office manager, said students need to give 30 days notice prior to moving out of the dorms. The cancellation date for moving into the dorms is Aug. 2, and moving out is Dec. 9.

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