Funding your education: Let’s talk about financial aid

Funding your education: Let’s talk about financial aid


Hello from the IYRS financial aid office

I'd like to begin by introducing myself. My name is Katherine Brito and I am the Financial Aid associate at IYRS. I started school later than most because I was unaware of how much aid is out there for qualifying students. I was afraid of taking out loans and ending up with too much debt upon graduating. I was motivated to apply for Federal Student Aid when I found out that one of my coworkers applied and got the Pell Grant. Knowing that I could get a grant that I would not have to pay back was a huge relief for me. I attended my first semester and paid most of my tuition and fees with the Pell Grant.

Later, I found out that my school offered scholarships. I was disappointed that no one had told me about it when I applied to school. What surprised me most was that there were so many outside scholarship options. Financial Aid is one of those things where you won't know what is out there  unless you advocate for yourself and do your own research. Many people think, ‘how can I apply if I can't afford to pay?’ After all, we don't go shopping with an empty wallet. At IYRS we make it a point to tell our students what financial aid options we accept and we encourage students to do their own research. I will even point our students in the right direction to begin the search.

As the Financial Aid Associate at IYRS School of Technology & Trades, I want to be one of your resources for finding Financial Aid that is accepted at IYRS and resources that you may qualify for. There are financial aid options for students depending on their specific circumstances, and these options require different steps to be taken by different deadlines, so being proactive will benefit you in the end. I want to help you do all you can to make your education at IYRS affordable, so I recommend getting in touch with me ( as soon as possible so I can share what resources may be available. We want you to overcome obstacles. We want you here. 

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Federal Student Aid 

Let’s start with Federal Student Aid. October through January is the time to start looking at Financial Aid options, especially Federal Student Aid, so that you can stay on top of those early deadlines. 

The FAFSA opens yearly on October 1 and closes June 30 of the following year. 

When filling out the FAFSA, be prepared to share household composition (who you live with that you may be a dependent of or who may be a dependent of yours) and income information – this information will help determine eligibility for grants and Federal Loans. If you have a bachelor's degree, you will not qualify for the Pell Grant, but you can still qualify for Federal Student Loans. Such as an undergraduate Direct Subsidized loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and/or a parent PLUS loan. Direct Subsidized Loans have slightly better terms to help students with financial need. You can get a Direct Unsubsidized loan regardless of financial need. 

The Department has made changes to the FAFSA this year so the 2024/2025 FAFSA will present some challenges to packaging aid for our students within the usual timeline, but there are some things we can do to avoid delays and get an aid estimate.

You do not want to guess on the FAFSA, make sure you are taking your time and if you are not sure how to answer a question you should contact the FAFSA helpline or contact me.

You will not be considered an independent student if you are under the age of 24 unless you have a dependent or have served in the military. Another thing you will come across is the term contributor, this refers to who financially supports you and it can be yourself. You will have the opportunity to invite anyone who could be considered a contributor to fill out their portion of your FAFSA.

Your tax information will be automatically retrieved from the IRS, the automatic part is new this year. If you are a dependent on someone else’s taxes or filed jointly with someone else, then the other party will be considered a contributor, and they will need to submit their information too once they receive an invitation.

Lastly, some of the household size questions can be misleading, make sure to read the instructions. There will be questions where the household size will not include yourself and your contributors, instead it refers to anyone else that you may live with. 

Once your FAFSA has been submitted, you will receive a notification via email and another one once it has been processed. Once processed, you may be able to see your Student Aid Report. The SAR and your FAFSA submission summary will let you know what you are and are not eligible for. It is up to you if you would like to share that with me so that I can give you an estimated Financial Aid Summary. Normally, the Department sends me that information, but due to the delays that the Department is experiencing, schools are not receiving FAFSA results yet. These results would normally already be in, so this is the work around.

Other loan options

There are other loan options too, like Sallie Mae and RISLA for local Rhode Islanders. These two student loan providers offer reasonable interest rates, but you will need a cosigner. Sallie Mae and RISLA have scholarship opportunities on their website. I encourage you to do some research to determine what is best for you. IYRS also accepts payments from a 529 plan. Your parents might have invested in a 529 plan to help pay for your education.  A 529 plan is a savings account that can only be used for education expenses. There are other similar plans like this one so I encourage you to look into this if applicable. 

The Rhode Island Foundation offers scholarships to Rhode Island residents. If you are out of state, I would research state specific scholarship foundations. CareerOneStop is another resource for scholarship aid for all US residents and sponsored by the Department of Labor. Researching scholarships is time consuming but will be worthwhile. Fastweb and appily are other good sources for scholarships, note that there will be some cross over between these and careeronestop, since they are all very similar platforms and have a lot of the same options. I would still look at all three of these options so you don’t miss one that might not be on the other site. 

IYRS scholarships

IYRS has its own scholarship applications and I encourage all our students to apply. You may be wondering what kind of answers to give to the scholarship questions. I encourage you to be thorough since there is no such thing as too much information when you are advocating for yourself. We want to know how IYRS can help you achieve your career goals and what you have done thus far that lead you to pursue this education and career. Tell us about your financial circumstances and your plan to overcome any financial obstacle. Lastly, do not forget to include your achievements and even hobbies, projects that you have worked on, or any community service you have done. Throughout, keep in mind what helps you stand out from the rest. 

Be proactive

Lastly, I want to mention that I email all admitted students information about all the financial aid options that IYRS will accept. I encourage our students to do their own research as well. Be proactive and start researching financial aid options that work for you, do so as soon as possible as deadlines will vary. Most scholarships tend to have early deadlines and will be awarded for the Fall Semester, so if you plan to attend in the Spring, make sure to apply for aid that will be arriving during your time here. Most scholarship applications will be due before the end of April. IYRS wants you here and I am always available as a financial aid resource.