Do you have questions about how to pay for higher education? Not sure who to ask for financial aid advice? Momentum Education’s Marketing Coordinator, Audrey Pena called UHD’s Financial Aid Counselor David Landry and asked questions, so you didn’t have to!
Audrey: “David, I wanted to ask about your background, where you grew up and what college you attended?”
David: “I grew up in the 5th ward in Houston, right outside of Downtown and actually 6 minutes away from UHD’s campus. I would always see the campus and actually attended an algebra course that exposed me to college life. I graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
Audrey: “I love that you grew up in the area and were living only 6 minutes away from your future job! The next thing I wanted to ask was what do you think is unique about UHD?”
David: “The biggest thing that students need to know is that you get what you give — if you come ready to learn and ready to receive knowledge, you are going to get that here. If you come to network and build relationships, you are going to get it. Be ready to receive, ready to experience the college life and you will get that from UHD.
Audrey: “I completely agree, I wanted to ask what your daily schedule looks like as a Financial Aid Counselor?”
David: “I get in a little before 8 AM to open the office for our students, I wait on students to come in, take lunch. After lunch, I start to work on the emails that the office gets and to answer any questions. Pre-COVID, I would go down to high schools and explain to students the financial aid of UHD and how they are most likely to get the ‘bang for your buck’ by attending UHD.”
Audrey: “I agree that students should really research where they could get their ‘bang for their buck’ — it is something that is overlooked often. The next question is what are the most important questions that are/aren’t asked by students?”
David: “The biggest questions that students ask is: Who is my financial aid advisor? Most students assume that registrar, business office, and financial aid are one large department when in reality — that is not the case. Since student’s aren’t sure who the counselor is, they email the department constantly which not only backs up in the inbox but it doesn’t help the student get anywhere. Students need to find out who their advisor is, that way questions can be addressed to one person.
Audrey: “Yes, I find that to be an issue on my campus as well. Another question that is popular is, are there work-study/part-time positions available on UHD’s campus?”
David: “The best person to ask would be Cora Battle (firstname.lastname@example.org) as she can give you more in-depth information on that. Students can also go to our home page and in the search bar type ‘jobs’ which takes them to a database of work-study positions.”
Audrey: “Awesome, I know that working on campus is very beneficial to students — I wanted to ask if UHD practices need-blind financial aid packages?”
David: “When students FAFSA/TAFSA submits to the university, there is a formula that calculates the needs of each student. As an institution we look at the formula to offer the need whether it is pell grants, institutional grants, or others. However, the only way we can calculate the need of students is if they submit the FAFSA/TAFSA to the university.”
Audrey: “Yes, to all the students — submit the FAFSA/TAFSA! If students have external scholarships, will financial aid be reduced?
David: “If students submit the FAFSA/TAFSA, they are given a budget — federal aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance of the institution. For example, let’s say a student has $40,000 in scholarships, they submitted a FAFSA and wants to use all of the scholarship money, financial aid cannot deny the use of the scholarship money and will remove loans to make room for scholarship funding — this is a good thing because you want the scholarship money, not loan money that students will have to pay back.”
Audrey: “That wraps up the questions, I wanted to say a big thank you on behalf of the students and Momentum Education for taking the time to answer these questions!”
— Audrey Pena (Marketing Coordinator for Momentum Education — Interviewing David Landry, University of Houston Downtown Financial Aid Counselor)