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On the Record with Jim Owens, Financial Adviser for Lansing Community College

As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” When it comes to paying for college, the facts can be a game-changer, and that’s why it’s important to meet with a financial adviser at your college of choice.

Jim Owens is one such financial aid adviser at Lansing Community College. With a nearly 30-year tenure at LCC, Owens has spent the past 22 of those years helping students navigate financial aid. The bulk of his work is deeply impactful to those he advises.

“Much of my one-on-one work is with students whose financial aid eligibility has been suspended due to lack of academic progress, a key requirement for retaining eligibility, and helping students who have experienced what we call ‘special circumstances,’ which impact their ability to pay for college — circumstances such as divorce, loss of income and homelessness,” Owens said.

He also shared that 86% of students nationally use financial aid, which is about the same percentage for LCC.

“Most people cannot afford college on their own, and we want to make sure to reach every student or family who thinks they can’t afford college and tell them that they actually can,” Owens said.

LCC administers tens of millions of dollars in federal, state and institutional aid each year, offering the standard programs that nearly all colleges do. LCC also participates in many state of Michigan scholarship programs, such as Futures for Frontliners, Reconnect, the Tuition Incentive Program and others.

“LCC students also receive millions of dollars each year in the form of scholarships from either our LCC Foundation, Adult Resource Center or athletics, or from the Lansing or Mason Promise or Lansing HOPE scholarship programs,” Owens said.

But students and their families also need to know the actual costs involved along with the programs and the rules that govern who gets what and when.

“We talk with every new student about finances in our orientation program, and again with those students who enroll in our academic success courses,” said Owens. “We have made financial literacy a guiding principle in all that we do. We want students to understand their options for paying for college, as well as the responsibilities — both academic and financial — that go along with these. Dropping or adding classes, changing majors and even failing a course could have a detrimental effect on a student’s financial standing with the college. If and when that happens, advisers like myself work with these students to try and get them back on track.”

Owens and his colleagues are available and encourage questions.

“Our office is open five days a week, and students can call or stop in for help pretty much anytime,” he said. “We are an open-door department and work collaboratively with academic advisers and success coaches to help keep our students moving forward.”

Students can also schedule face-to-face or virtual appointments.