By Nydia Nittmann, director, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid

As the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid prepares to welcome students back to school this fall semester, I reflect on the journey that parents, students and financial aid staff have taken to get to this point.

Some common descriptors used by parents and students of the financial aid application process are confusing, daunting and complicated. If I were to ask financial aid staff how they would describe the process they would likely add challenging.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) alone contains more than 100 questions – some of which can feel intrusive. Scholarships for applications frequently require essays and letters of recommendation. Regardless of the difficulties, parents, students and financial aid staff will also say that the work it takes to apply for financial aid is well worth the effort.

In the past aid year – fall 2014, spring and summer 2015 – the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid awarded one or more of a scholarship, waiver, grant, loan or work-study to more than 22,500 students for a total disbursement amount greater than $301 million.

We are on a similar track, if not slightly more, for the upcoming aid year.

As financial aid administrators, when we see these numbers the journey becomes less of a hardship and more of a pleasure trip. These numbers reflect options and opportunities for students that otherwise would be unavailable.

There is no greater feeling of accomplishment than to see the effect financial assistance makes in a student’s ability to pursue an education.

Information on NAU’s financial programs, including scholarships, is available online.