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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell Collins

Financial Aid (Beyond the Cave)

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

It’s about that time of the year, with highschool seniors graduating soon, many students and their families are worried about finances and how they will afford further schooling. That’s why it’s important to learn about the many options to pay for higher-education and scholarships available.

Beyond the Cave is a one great resource for Mishawaka students. Brain Baumer, MHS teacher and Director of Beyond the Cave offers his help and resources to MHS students (of any grade). Book your meeting with Mr. Baumer by emailing him at the following address and ask to set up an appointment (

“I enjoy every Beyond Cave meeting - it is a chance to hear about the great things our students want to pursue and share with them the tools and resources they need to accomplish those things,” Baumer promised.

“Each student that visits Beyond the Cave leaves with a personalized Beyond the Cave Student Document that has the resources, tools, links, and information that they need to start, or continue, working on their scholarship strategy,” he continued.

While applying to colleges and universities it’s essential to keep a few things in mind, one of those being cost. If a student is unable to afford a school they want to attend, they could rack up amounts of fees in student loans that they would have to pay off for the majority of their adult life- but there are many ways to reduce these costs and sometimes even avoid them entirely.

“Scholarships are one source of the bigger concept of financial aid in general. With a better understanding of that process, students and families can start estimating types/levels of financial aid so that they have a sense about what their ‘financial aid gap’ might be,” explained Baumer.

Financial aid does not come in one shape or form, but there are a few main types: student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study jobs. All of these options come with their pros and cons, so it is best to do your own research before committing to one or another.

Student loans are a route that many higher-education students pursue; it might be one of the most attainable aspects of financial aid, and if you pay back the loans on time- it can build good credit. Although, you would be starting adulthood with debt, which can not only get in the way of goals you might have for your life, but forgetting to pay loan charges on time can lead to declining credit and possibly extra charges.

Scholarships are another amazing way to fund college or university. You don’t have to pay them back and being awarded scholarship(s) will make your resume stand out to colleges and employers. But, most scholarships are selective and competitive. It’s also likely you will have to maintain certain requirements throughout the school year to keep the scholarship.

Grants are also a form of financial aid that you do not need to pay back; and it is also possible to get more than one, which can be a huge advantage. But less people are likely to get these grants compared to other forms of aid because they are not only competitive, but also Financial-Need based- which is another thing students can explore in Beyond the Cave.

Federal Work-Study provides students with part-time jobs, that in turn help pay for further education. This program not only helps students gain experience in the work field, and provides less competition for future jobs, but it also works around students' existing scheduled classes. On the other hand, Work-Study offers relatively low wages, limited hours, and added stress.

“The earlier you start the better. Before applying to colleges, Beyond the Cave wants to give you tools to find schools that offer the programs that you are interested in. Students should come into their senior year with that list of schools built.

“You are in a much better position if you have a list of possible schools built before you start getting Financial Aid Award letters from schools and finding out what your financial aid gap is. It is the difference between being reactionary or proactive with your financial aid strategy,” concluded Baumer.

Getting a headstart on you post-highschool planning. “Start early. Finish strong. EXPLORE, PLAN, SUCCEED!”

A final comment from Baumer: “100% of Beyond the Cave students have indicated they would 1) recommend a BTC appointment to a friend and 2) feel like they have a better understanding of a pathway forward for themselves after their initial meeting. Many have commented, ‘I wish I had done this earlier’.”

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