Feb. 25, 2013
The rush to apply for financial aid begins every year on Jan. 1.
Students are reminded to send in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications before March 1, the national priority filing date.
“I believe everybody should apply for FAFSA. You don’t know what you qualify for until you actually fill out the application,” said Jevita Rogers, director of Financial Aid.
“As long as you’re a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you haven’t defaulted on a student loan and you’re accepted into a degree program, you’re eligible for financial aid,” she added.
She said FAFSA was created in 1965, but was not free until 1993 – and anyone can apply because it is a free application.
“You can always turn down anything that my office offers, but it’s a nice thing to have; essentially, a back-up plan,” Rogers said.
“It’s the only way that we can have a uniform way that students apply for financial aid and are treated the exact same way,” she said. “It’s universal, so every school in the United States and a couple of foreign schools that use FAFSA will all have the students being treated under the same formula.”
In order to get as many students as possible to file their FAFSA early, the national priority filing date for FAFSA is March 1.
FAFSA renewal can take between 5-10 minutes because the only thing the student is changing is income information. If a student is filing for the first time, the FAFSA application can take between 35-40 minutes.
If a student or parent has yet to file his or her taxes, there is an income estimator built within the FAFSA. The student or parent can take their W-2 or last pay stub and use that to estimate the tax information. Once the person files his or her taxes, then they can go in and update the tax section.
The FAFSA is processed by the federal government within 24-48 hours, and the Financial Aid Office receives the information in about four business days after it’s been processed by the Department of Education.
“It’s a real quick process,” Rogers said.
The Financial Aid Office offers several opportunities to help students file their FAFSA. One opportunity was the national annual College Bowl Sunday. This year, Financial Aid had about 90 students and parents who attended.
Financial Aid also had a FAFSA Fest, where the office had computer labs open and students could come in to ask questions. This year’s FAFSA Fest was Feb. 15 and 22, but services are still available.
The office sees students on a walk-in basis, so those that have questions can come in and meet with a counselor.
Additionally, “they can email, call, fax – pretty much anything but smoke signals, we’ll respond to,” Rogers said. “I’m still working on the smoke signals.”
She added, “We’re trying to find different and more interesting ways because people find financial aid boring sometimes.”
The office also has several websites: facebook.com/UCCSFinAid, twitter.com/UCCSFinAid and can be reached at 255-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org or uccs.edu/finaid.
The office also has a YouTube page, youtube.com/UCCSFinAid, which includes videos about applying for financial aid and scholarships.
“The biggest thing is knowing that applying for financial aid is easier than it’s ever been, so the key is applying, and when in doubt, we have many resources available to us,” said Rogers.
“Hopefully, between the videos and newsletter we make and the updates on Facebook, students will respond to us and not think we’re that boring.”