Finals and Holiday Stress
The fall semester is winding down, but student stress levels may be gearing up for the next 3 weeks. The major cause of stress for students at the end of the term is obviously academics. Students are worried about completing papers and projects, worried about studying for finals, and worried about their grades. As a result of all this stress, some may be sleeping less, eating worse, and drinking more caffeine. Some may feel a sense of panic about everything they have to finish, and even feel angry with themselves for procrastinating.
The other major stressor during this time is feelings related to the holidays and semester break. Students whose families are experiencing problems or losses can have mixed emotions about coming home. Students in dating relationships at school can feel sad about being separated over the break or concerned about the strain the separation may cause. There are feelings of loneliness for some students who are not in relationships but wish they were. This year in particular, there is also financial stress related to holidays due to gift-buying and travel costs.
The best advice for families and loved ones is still to listen, encourage, and remind them of their strengths. This time of year it’s also easy to remind students of the light at the end of the tunnel – the holiday break will be here soon.
For families whose students are residents, it can be helpful to have a discussion about expectations before your child returns home for break. After a semester of relative independence regarding bedtime, waking up, curfew, and scheduling, reaching a compromise on these issues before there is a conflict may be a good idea.
Links to information pages on Finals Week Stress and Holiday Blues are available on the Counseling Center’s webpage ( http://www.upg.pitt.edu/Current/counselingServices.aspx ). The same handouts are available around campus. As always, if you are concerned your student is not coping well or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Counseling Center.
Have a peaceful and happy holiday season.
Gayle F. Pamerleau, LCSW
Director of Counseling
Valentine’s Day Hearts…in December!! You may have just put up your Christmas tree and already I am moving on to Valentine’s Day. Why….because when you think of Valentine’s Day thoughts of candy, roses and hearts come to mind. So too should the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filing deadline. Why? Because what is near and dear to our hearts? Money. And the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for money…financial aid, grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. So when you start seeing those Valentine hearts… think money…think FAFSA filing deadline.
February is the ideal month to complete the FAFSA. But with busy schedules that may not be possible; keep in mind that the state uses the FAFSA information for state grant processing and their deadline is May 1. If at all possible, complete the FAFSA by Valentine’s Day, definitely by May 1, 2009.
The FAFSA is the form the federal government uses to determine your eligibility for financial aid.
Complete the FAFSA on the web at www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you completed the FAFSA last year, you may receive a Renewal FAFSA link via e-mail. A Renewal FAFSA is a shorter version of the regular FAFSA form. Fill out the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1.
The student and at least one parent should apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at www.pin.ed.gov. The PIN will serve as your electronic signature of the FAFSA, on the Master Promissory Notes for the Federal Stafford Loan and the PLUS Loan. It can also be used whenever corrections need to be made to the FAFSA.
A useful tool is preparing to complete the FAFSA online is the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. The worksheet is designed for applicants who prefer to fill something out in writing before applying online. The worksheet is available in the Financial Aid Office or online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Keep copies of your 2008 federal income form and all W2’s.
Do not mail the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. It is not an application.
Make sure all required signatures (student and one parent) are on the FAFSA. Use your PIN to sign the FAFSA.
Print copies of the FAFSA before you submit it for processing.