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News@MCC for Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What You Need to Know About the FAFSA

If you will be attending college next fall, you need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is a single comprehensive form used for state, federal and institutional grants. While not exactly a picnic, it is also not that daunting a task. Remember, even if filed last year, the FAFSA form has to be renewed each year a student plans to seek financial assistance.

The sooner you file the FAFSA, the better. Some of the monies are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. MCC's priority deadline is April 1. MCC's school code is 004432.

A few tips:

  • File online. Go to www.fafsa.gov (don't get it confused with www.fafsa.com).
  • Get a PIN (Person Identification Number). You can apply for a pin while completing your FAFSA or get it ahead of time at www.pin.ed.gov. The PIN will enable you to "sign" your form electronically.
  • Gather the necessary paperwork. Here's what you'll need:
    • Prior year's income information for the student, student's spouse or student's parent (if a dependent)
    • Prior year records of earned income (non-tax filers)
    • Prior year Social Security documentation
    • Prior year Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) documentation
    • Prior year child support documents (either paid or received)
    • Any other prior year untaxed income documentation (e.g., military housing allowance)
    • Current bank statement showing savings
    • Record of stocks, bonds, real estate or other investment values that are not part of a qualified retirement plan
    • School code. Metropolitan Community College's school code is 004432.
  • Don't wait until you complete your 2010 taxes. You can complete the FASFA with estimated numbers, but it is recommended, if you are able, to complete them early in the year. If you estimate, you will have to go back and update your information when it is complete. Remember: MCC's priority deadline is April 1.
  • List all household members. Be sure to include any dependent children if you provide half the support and claim them on your taxes even if they do not live with you. Count any babies about to make an appearance prior to the end of the year.
  • Don't inflate your wealth. Make sure you list your assets as of the date you're completing the FAFSA, not the end of the calendar year. Pay off any big expenses first, and if you're anticipating any windfalls, file the form before receiving them.
  • Double check. Common FAFSA mistakes include: using nicknames instead of legal names; leaving fields blank (use a 0 if the question doesn't apply to you); not including yourself in the household size; not having parents and children sign before filing.

Once you file the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report with your official Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Financial Aid Office determines need by simply subtracting your Expected Family Contribution from MCC's Cost of Attendance. MCC's Financial Aid and Veteran Services Office offers a financial aid package generally consisting of a combination of grant(s) (gift aid) and work-study employment (self-help aid) to eligible students with demonstrated need. Aid is awarded as part of the means for you to begin or continue your studies.

If you are unable to complete the electronic FAFSA, contact MCC's Financial Aid Office at (402) 457-2330 for assistance.

Wanted: Nominations for Excellent Instructors

MCC seeks nominations from students for top faculty members. The 2011 MCC Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize full-time and adjunct faculty based on four criteria:

  • Professionalism
  • Commitment to learning
  • Relationships with students
  • Relationships with colleagues

The awards will be presented at the Spring Academic Affairs Awards Banquet on Monday, March 7.  Recipients will receive a certificate and will be selected to attend and represent MCC at the 2012 NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Conference in Austin, Texas.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 4. Nominations may be submitted by any employee, student or community member. Find the nomination form and specific criteria for the Teaching Award at www.mccneb.edu/academicaffairs/awards.asp.

One Search, Many Databases

If you haven't used the library's research databases lately, you will find that now it's easier than ever to search for articles. Instead of searching one database at a time, users can now search multiple databases at once with Integrated Search. That means a single search can return articles from several databases at the same time.

Integrated Search also allows users to perform searches that target databases within a single discipline. For example, you can search multiple business databases at the same time. Alternatively, you can customize your search yourself by choosing which specific databases you want to search.

Integrated Search is available on the library's website. Just use the search box in the middle of the page or click on the link beneath it to access subject-specific search boxes.

For more information, contact an MCC library.

Scholarly Journals Made Easy

The MCC Libraries now offer a special search function that allows users to search for scholarly journals in multiple databases at the same time.

To access this service, go to the library's website and click on Scholarly Journals on the left side of the screen. The search box at the top of the page searches all our EBSCOhost databases including Academic Search Premier, Business Source Elite and Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition. Type in the topic you are researching, and you will get academic articles from a variety of databases right away.

The Scholarly Journals page also provides links to non-EBSCOhost databases as well as instructions on how to search them for scholarly journals.

For more information, contact an MCC library.

Time to Change Your Password

At MCC, password security policies exist to protect the privacy of our users and to adhere to required security guidelines. The College is in the process of revising these policies in an effort to increase security via a process called password aging - a process in which a password expires after a certain amount of time.

As of Jan. 10, 2011, all MCC users (staff, faculty and students) must have passwords that are less than 180 days old. If your password falls into this category, upon successful login, you will be prompted to change it.

Change your password when prompted. Contact the MCC Help Desk if you are unsuccessful or experience technical difficulties.

If you are on a College-owned computer, you may change your password at any time by pressing the Control-Alt-Delete keys at the same time and choosing the change your password option. You do not have to wait until your password has actually expired before you change it.

If you wait until your password has expired when you log in to your College-owned computer, you will receive a message stating that your password has expired and that you must change it. A dialogue box will pop up with entries for your old password, your new password and new password confirmation. Your old password should already be filled in for you and designated with the letter X. Enter your new password and then retype that same password for verification. The rules for your password include the following:

  • Your password must be a minimum of seven characters.
  • The password must contain a combination of letters, numbers and capitalization.
  • Your password must be unique. You cannot use the same password within a one-year period.
  • Do not use words included in a dictionary.

An example of an unacceptable password would be bugle (only five letters, no numbers, all lowercase and found in a dictionary). A better password might be Burgl3r. The letter E has been changed to the number 3, more characters have been added to meet the minimum of seven characters and it begins with a capital B.

Remember that your password is case-sensitive so be aware if your Caps Lock key is on.

After confirming your password, you will be logged onto your College-owned computer as normal. From then on, you need to use your new password. Password changes will be required every 180 days, and each time you will follow the same procedure as described above.

The Password Center is available online at all times; if you find that you cannot change your password using the Password Center, the Help Desk can assist you during regular Help Desk hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.- 2 p.m.). If you have any other problems performing the password change, call the Help Desk at (402) 457-2900. 

New Titles at MCC Libraries

Head on over to your local MCC library to check out the new books, DVDs and other media now available. See the full list here.

Beware of Phishing Attempts Masquerading as Official Email

Do not give your College user ID and password via email to anyone. The MCC Help Desk will not request your user ID and password via email. The Help Desk does not need this information.

Some U.S. colleges have been the victims of phishing attacks. Phishing is the process of attempting to acquire sensitive information by using an email that masquerades as an official or trustworthy entity. In the case of the college phishing attacks, employees or students received official looking emails asking for the user's college user ID and password. If you receive an official-looking email asking for this type of information, it is a phishing attempt and should be deleted or dropped into the Abuse Mail folder found in Public Folders.

To access the abuse folder:

  1. In Microsoft Outlook, click on the Go tab and select Folder List
  2. Expand Public Folders and then All Public Folders
  3. Drag and drop the email into the Abuse Mail folder

Items in this folder go to MCC's email administrators who use these emails to help block spam. Additional information on this phishing scheme can be found at www.securityfocus.com/news/11504.

Changes to Wireless Connections at MCC

Starting Feb. 1, MCC will require users to use their MCC username and password to connect to the wireless networks at all MCC locations.

The change to an encrypted connection will provide an important level of security for users. Students may have to change their wireless settings in order to connect to the Wireless_Guest network. For help connecting, contact the Help Desk at (402) 457-2900.

Conversation Table Offers Spanish, English Speakers Language Practice

MCC's Mesa de Intercambio provides an informal way for native Spanish and English speakers to learn from each other through conversation. Stop by every Tuesday during Winter quarter from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the South Omaha Campus Commons Area to practice your English or Spanish conversation skills in a fun and informal setting.

This event is sponsored by Service-Learning. Questions? Contact Elizabeth McPhail at (402) 457-2591 or eamcphail1@mccneb.edu.

Help Save the Day by Donating Blood

Down the street and across the country there are patients in need of lifesaving blood. You can be a lifesaver and make a difference in the lives of others by donating blood. Every day, blood is needed for people with blood disorders, cancer patients, transplant recipients, trauma victims and many others.

When you roll up your sleeve to donate blood, that single act can turn heartbreak into hope for patients and their families. Schedule an appointment to donate blood.

Upcoming blood drive:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 19, 8 a.m.-noon, Fort Omaha Campus, Bloodmobile near Bldg. 10, (Sponsor Code: 68)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 26, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., South Omaha Campus, Conference Center, (Sponsor Code: 69)
  • Monday, Jan. 31, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Elkhorn Valley Campus, Student Commons, (Sponsor Code: 594)

To view available times and to schedule your donation appointment, click here, visit www.redcrossblood.org and enter the sponsor code listed above or call 1.800.GIVE.LIFE (1.800.448.3543) to schedule your blood donation appointment.

Not sure if you are eligible to donate? Visit www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements or call the above 800 number.

Free Workshops Shed Green Light on Permaculture

Through free Training and Development workshops, MCC's Office of Sustainable Practice is offering students, staff and the community a free opportunity to learn about how sustainability fits into our lives. Register for the following workshop at (402) 457-5231.

Introductions to Composting and Permaculture (IFEX 002N)
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 1-4 p.m.
FOC 29, Room 103

Urban Environment Specialist Bobbi Holm will discuss the how and why of home composting with a tiny bit of the chemistry and biology of the process thrown in. Participants will also take a quick look at the City of Omaha's composting process, as well as the results of landfills.

Following the introduction to composting, Agricultural Specialist Chris Combs will present an introduction to permaculture. Learn the principles and ethics of using natural ecological patterns to maximize the effect of your home landscaping while reducing the time and labor you commit. Examples of permaculture designs and Omaha-specific strategies will be presented.

Green Tip

Close the curtains when it's sunny in the summer and when it's cold in the winter, and you could reduce your energy needs by up to 25 percent. If every house in America kept the curtains closed for additional insulation, the total energy saved annually would be as much as the entire nation of Japan uses in a year. - The Green Book

What Do Indicator Lights Mean?

When the light comes on with the battery symbol, it does not mean that you have a bad battery. It means that the charging system stopped working or it is malfunctioning.

When the light comes on with an oil can symbol or another lubrication-related symbol, it does not mean you are low on engine oil; it means there is no oil pressure. No oil pressure means that the engine is out of oil. Of all the lights on the dash, this one WILL cause the most damage to the inside of the engine very quickly. Adding oil will not reverse the damage. Do not confuse this light with the low oil light.

The oil service light comes on as part of the system that monitors the amount of miles since the last oil change. You do need to keep track of the number of miles you travel between service intervals. Some manufacturers have the light set at 10,000 miles between oil changes. Talk to your repair shop to see if that is acceptable - or excessive - according to your driving habits.

When the light comes on with a thermometer symbol or another temperature-related symbol, it means temperature of the engine is too high and engine damage is about to occur. It does not take very long for excessive heat to cause serious damage to an engine.

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