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The summer months on most college campuses are busy with orientation and many financial aid sessions for students and parents. To complement these goings-on, SCHEV has asked professionals from institutions around the state to comment on five simple questions about their school and financial aid. Much like James Lipton’s questions at the end of The Actor’s Studio, we hope these quick interviews will shed some light on the people that serve in the field of financial aid. To kick off our new series, Secrets from the Inside, we asked our questions of Karen Schinabeck, Director of Financial Aid at Longwood University.

Briefly, what do you think is the most exciting or attractive feature of your institution?

Aside from having one of the most beautiful campuses in Virginia, I think we do a great job of preparing students for the real world after college—on both a personal and professional level. Longwood is one of the few universities in the nation that requires some form of “hands-on” experiential learning (internship, research project, directed study) of every student before graduation. When they leave Longwood, they are good to go in every way.

What is the single most important piece of financial aid information you think students should know?

There IS money available for college! But, you need to apply to be considered. So, file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year at www.fafsa.ed.gov

What is the most common financial aid mistake you see, and how can students and their families keep from falling into that trap?

Lack of timely response can be a costly financial aid mistake. Due to the nature of financial aid, a lot of information is disseminated to students and their families, which requires action to be taken on their part. Thoroughly read each piece of information you receive and follow instructions by the stated deadlines.

What is the most creative cost-saving method you’ve heard about from students?

Commuter students sometimes supplement their on-campus classes with on-line classes, which enables them to only drive to campus two or three days a week, thereby saving transportation expenses.

What is your favorite cartoon character and why?

Foghorn-Leghorn, because he is a great teacher and mentor to the little chicken hawk!

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