Katie Caldwell, a 2015 Master’s of Education graduate, previous Belmont employee and current Mortgage Loan Originator, has recently published her first ebook, Let Me Help You Complete the FAFSA. Caldwell initially wrote the book as her thesis project, a requirement of completing her master’s at Belmont.
During her graduate work, Caldwell said she took every opportunity to focus her assignments and projects on this topic–navigating the FAFSA process. At the time, she was a staff member in Belmont’s Student Financial Services Office and had the chance to work with students and families as they navigated the financial aspects of college on a daily basis. “By doing these projects, I learned I was able to take a complicated topic and explain it in a way for others to understand easily,” she said. “More importantly though, I was willing to do this and enjoyed it. The more papers I wrote and discussions I had led me to the idea of completely dissecting the FAFSA and making it available in an eBook format.”
Knowing that financial concerns are often a major contributor to students not pursuing college, Caldwell was motivated to get her thesis work into the hands of students and families across the country. “I want to provide a resource to families and stress the importance of the application,” she said. “There is already intimidation and fear associated with applying for college, and I believe that professionals in this industry can reduce many of these feelings by simply sharing their knowledge.”
In her book, Caldwell reviews each of the FAFSA’s 103 questions, allowing readers to narrow down specific areas of interest. She also includes detailed scenarios to ensure understanding and highlights additional electronic resources for readers to access. “Finances can be a sensitive subject,” she said, “so adding the purpose or reasoning behind each question can reduce that sensitivity. Overall, if this book answers one reader’s single question about the FAFSA, I’ve done my job.”
Over the next year, Caldwell hopes to get the book into high schools and colleges across the country, while making herself available to teach college prep and senior transition courses.