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Webseries: How to pay for college

In April 2020, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Community Development Corporation, CPN Department of Education, Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education’s Oklahoma Money Matters, and the Oklahoma College Assistance Program hosted webinars highlighting multiple options on how to pay for college.

A Federal Reserve Bank of New York 2018 report stated nearly 45 million Americans have some form of student loan debt totaling $1.47 trillion dollars. While the CPN Department of Education offers scholarships, there are many other ways to reduce student debt and create a payment program suited to each individual.

The two sessions covered the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Student Loan Repayment.


Session 1: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Q&A

This session teaches how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and its importance. It also includes many other opportunities and possibilities for paying for college, ranging from grants to tuition waivers.

Letha Huddleston, outreach specialist, from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Oklahoma Money Matters initiative leads the workshop. She brings a vast amount of knowledge of helping students pay for their college education. Her experience includes serving as a financial aid officer and adult instructor at a career school and a 12-year career at the OSRHE.

Click here for the slideshow presentation for FAFSA and Q&A.


Session 2: Student Loan Repayment

This session covers the ins and outs of student loan repayment. Topics include what to do when you are in default and a variety of repayment options. It also discusses the differences between private and federal loans as well as provides a guide on how to use the Federal Student Aid website.

Sara Lorenzen, an outreach specialist for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Oklahoma Money Matters initiative leads the workshop. She obtained her undergraduate degree in public relations and her master’s in adult education from the University of Central Oklahoma.

Click here for the slideshow presentation for student loan repayment.


CPCDC College Fit & Finance Summer School

In June, the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation hosted the College Fit & Finance Summer School webinar series to help students get started with and pay for college.


Session 1: Okcollegestart

This session covers OKcollegestart.org, a free online tool available to students of all ages, parents and educators across the state. The site empowers students to create individual portfolios, complete career planning assessments and features access to a national scholarship database, ACT and SAT test prep tools, detailed profiles of colleges and universities nationwide, extensive information about federal and state financial aid, and an online application for the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program.

Hosted by: Theresa Shaklee. Shaklee has worked for the Oklahoma College Assistance Program since 2017. In her role as OKcollegestart Coordinator, she shares college and career exploration tools with students and educators across the state. Theresa has worked in higher education more than 9 years and has experience in recruitment, admission, financial aid and student life. Theresa attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2009. In 2016, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education.

Click here for the slideshow presentation on Okcollegestart.


Session 2: Reach Higher

This session is about Reach Higher, Oklahoma’s Adult Degree Completion Program that is designed for adult students with some college, but no degree to return and complete a degree in a flexible, accelerated and affordable way. It includes information about student resources that are available across the state and personalized degree completion plans that include associate and bachelor’s degrees that are offered online and in 8-week formats to help provide options for busy adults to fit college back into their lives.

Hosted by: Sheila Smith, Reach Higher Program Manager for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, administers activities related to the statewide Reach Higher degree completion program for adult students who want to finish their college degrees from a state university, college or technical branch. She facilitates, promotes and coordinates the Reach Higher initiative with participating two-year and four-year institutions and Oklahoma businesses. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma and an M.A. from Southern Nazarene University.

And: Tisha Bradford, Degree Completion Navigator for the Reach Higher DirectComplete program with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, serves as a liaison between non-traditional adult students and participating DirectComplete institutions across the state. Tisha attended Langston University where she graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry.

Click here for the slideshow presentation on Reach Higher.


Session 3: Fund Your Future

During this session, you’ll learn the many different ways to fund a degree and how to ensure you have a good combination of aid to pay for school. We will discuss college savings, FAFSA, scholarships, smart student loan borrowing and many other ways to fund a college degree for yourself or the student in your life.

Hosted by: Sara Lorenzen is an Outreach Specialist for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s financial literacy initiative, Oklahoma Money Matters, and student loan repayment initiative, Ready Set Repay. Sara came to OSHRE in 2019 from the nonprofit sector with more than 15 years of experience in public relations, communications, outreach and client relationship management. She earned a bachelor of arts in public relations and master of education in adult education – training from the University of Central Oklahoma.

Click here for the slideshow presentation for Fund Your Future.


Session 4: Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Learn about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The PSLF Program can forgive the remaining balance on qualifying Direct Loans after you have met the requirements, including making 120 monthly payments under an eligible repayment plan while employed full-time within specific sectors and industries. This session covers what constitutes a qualified payment and offers tips to help you avoid being denied forgiveness as well as a walk-through of application forms.

Sara Lorenzen, an outreach specialist for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Oklahoma Money Matters initiative leads the workshop. She obtained her undergraduate degree in public relations and her master’s in adult education from the University of Central Oklahoma.

Click here for the slideshow presentation for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.


Resource links

These links are mentioned throughout the presentations listed above:

Visit the CPN Education Department at cpn.news/education for information on Tribal scholarships, college advising and contact information.