Pasco-Hernando State College Volume XIV, Issue II Fall 2020 | Page 15

especially those who wisely attend Florida public colleges. Our own Pasco-Hernando State College is a sometimes overlooked option, despite its five convenient campuses, low tuition and fees, and opportunities to complete a bachelor’s degrees or transfer to Florida’s university system. Options to Graduate Debt-free at PHSC: Dual Enrollment (DE): Each year, ambitious high school students graduate with Associate in Arts Degrees within weeks of high school graduation, thanks to articulation agreements between PHSC and the Pasco and Hernando county school districts. In Fall 2019, 1,397 (unduplicated) high school students were enrolled in dual enrollment classes offered on PHSC and high school campuses at no cost to families. Dually-enrolled students simultaneously earn high school and college credit —meeting high school graduation requirements while securing college credits that apply to PHSC degree programs. The credits are also transferable to any public college or university. Bright Futures/Florida State Aid: Students may qualify for one of four levels of aid through Bright Futures, with the top tier providing tuition reimbursement at 100 percent, plus funds for textbooks. Stay informed, as requirements can change annually. Pell Grant: This valuable federal program provides funds that do not have to be repaid. PELL grants are based on income and other factors. More than 40 percent of PHSC students are eligible for maximum Federal Pell Grant funding. PHSC Foundation Scholarships: A simple, onestep application matches scholarship requests to hundreds of institutional scholarships. Risk leaving thousands of dollars on the table if you assume that you don’t qualify. In 2018-2019, more than a million dollars in scholarships were awarded to nearly 1,000 PHSC students. Work-Study: Students can work at PHSC, gaining real-world experience with jobs scheduled conveniently around classes. Some former workstudy students become so effective in their roles that they fill full-time positions at PHSC. Veteran Benefits: Veteran and military family members may qualify for veterans education benefits. Each PHSC campus has a Veterans Advisor available to assist students in applying for benefits and certifying enrollment to receive funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some VA students may also qualify for additional financial aid funding to assist with enrollment costs and living expenses. PHSC proudly supports more than 400 currently enrolled student veterans and family members. Earn as you Learn: “Stackable credentials” allow students to earn college credit certificates that transfer seamlessly to Associate in Science degrees — building resumes as they earn credentials. PHSC offers 58 career and technical programs in addition to 27 AS degree programs and two bachelor’s degrees with options to transfer to Florida’s university system. PHSC has launched countless impressive academic and professional careers. Doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, nurses, dentists, teachers, pilots, IT professionals — our 72,000 alums can be found in virtually every profession. FAFSFA First: All students seeking financial aid must process this form ASAP. High school guidance counselors and PHSC financial aid advisors can help. Regardless of income, whether students qualify for state and federal funds and/or scholarships rests on the completion of this form. Pandemic aside, there are many good reasons to consider PHSC, including quality instruction provided by credentialed professors, with most classes capped at 30 or fewer students. At some point, free cultural events, lectures, athletics, and intramural programs will return to PHSC campuses. Students can engage with classmates in more than 60 student clubs and organizations, some of which will be available online until the college returns to campus-based operations. Attending PHSC allows many students to live safely at home in a setting more conducive to social distancing, without the expense of campus housing, meal plans and parking fees. Is it possible to graduate from college debt-free? The answer is closer than you think. Imagine, Believe, Achieve. About the columnist: Dr. Rao Musunuru, a nationally recognized local cardiologist, has been continually serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for PHSC (formerly PHCC) since 1999. He is the recipient of the 2013 Southern Regional Trustee Leadership Award from the National Association of Community College Trustees. The data included in this column is current as of the 2019-20 academic year, as reported in PHSC’s Institutional Fact Book. FALL 2020 13