Removing financial barriers
When Carolina Covenant Scholars arrive for summer orientation, they are greeted by the friendly face of Ann Trollinger. Trollinger is the financial aid advisor for Carolina Covenant. At their first chance to meet new Scholars and their parents, Trollinger and her colleagues convey a clear message “We’re your Covenant Team. Welcome to Carolina.”
As Associate Director of Scholarships and Student Aid, Trollinger acts as a personal financial aid adviser to Covenant Scholars. She says, “At orientation, we want to introduce ourselves to the Scholars so they are not intimidated about coming to see us.”
Intimidating? Far from it. Trollinger’s office is two doors down from Dr. Fred Clark and Michael Highland, the academic coordinators for Carolina Covenant. Within this team, Scholars find there is an answer for every question and a solution to almost every problem. Trollinger’s open-door policy invites Scholars to bring their concerns about financial issues to her any day, any time, with no appointment necessary.
“A lot of new Scholars are concerned with timing – when financial aid will be deposited to their student account; what it will cover; and what happens if the money isn’t there when the bill is due. We alleviate those anxieties, and we include their parents to keep them involved and eliminate their concerns as well.”
How does Trollinger help?
- She works one-on-one with Scholars to match their interests and academic major with a fitting Federal Work-Study job.
- She helps Scholars learn to budget, explaining ways to make their award disbursements last a whole semester and pay for books, additional costs, and miscellaneous expenses.
- She manages the financial aid that allows Scholars to study abroad.
“Many students don’t realize they can use their financial aid to study abroad,” Trollinger says. Work-Study funds convert to grants when a student is enrolled in a Study Abroad experience, and Trollinger helps students choose a program that correspond well with their financial aid.
Covenant Scholars can sign up for financial management workshops with tips and tools to help them manage their money – from the time they start college, throughout their undergraduate career, and as they make plans for life after college. Trollinger explains, “We are more than helping them understand their Covenant Scholarship. We are teaching them financial strategies for life.”
Trollinger has helped students with financial aid services for 22 years – specifically at Carolina for 17 of those years – but, to her, the Carolina Covenant is special. “This is the best program I’ve been involved with because it’s so rewarding. My favorite part is when the students come back and sit in my office and share their success stories with me.”
As the Carolina Covenant program has evolved, Trollinger has seen the significance of a debt-free undergraduate education. Scholars’ options are wide open after graduation. A debt-free degree enables them to consider loans for graduate school and gives them the financial freedom to pursue the career of their choice without the burden of loan repayment. The Covenant gives Scholars the chance to realize their dreams.