by Rebecca Cooper
The financial aid office met with about 35 psychology doctorate candidates on Oct. 15 to discuss the possibility of increasing financial aid available to them from the federal government.
Students brought estimates of school and living expenses, including books, food, rent, utilities, childcare and health care.
A survey to establish a realistic budget for psychology doctorate students was distributed by Leatha Webster, interim director of financial aid.
“While [psychology doctorate] students are in school they cannot work, because of the hours they are required to put in,” Webster said. “If they do work, they work odd hours and their grades suffer. It is not in anyone’s best interest for them to be working, and many have a need for more financial aid, so we decided to meet with them to get a greater estimate of what exactly they need.”
Webster and Valerie Jordan, psychology doctoral program chair, have been working together since the beginning of the semester to bring this into action.
“Mrs. Webster has really been helpful in the short time she has been here,” Jordan said. “She’s really helped clarify and resolve many of the financial aid issues my students and myself have had. The additional financial aid is critically important for these students to get through school, devoting more time to their studies than worrying about working to pay the bills.”
The additional funds would be available through the HEAL loan program, which offers additional money to students in health professions fields, because they incur extra expenses and are able to work less hours.
Currently students can receive up to $8,500 of federally subsidized loans.
Through the implementation of the HEAL program, psychology doctorate students at ULV would be eligible to receive up to $22,500 in unsubsidized loans.
With subsidized loans, the government pays the interest while students are in school and during the nine-month grace period after.
Students pay all the interest in unsubsidized loans, which they can defer until after graduation, Webster said.
“I’m definitely going to apply for more financial aid,” said Kimberly Spitz, psychology doctorate student.
“I will have more debt while I’m in school, but it will help me in the future. I plan to use the additional money to buy property and pay of some of my other expenses. It will really help in the long run,” she said.
The average cost of the program is about $65,000, Jordan said.
The psychology doctorate program, which is the only
clinical-community psychology program in Southern California, is a five-year program, consisting of four years of classes and work at practicum sites.
They pay tuition because it is part of the required academic curriculum.