As you know, FAFSA filing season is upon us. What you may not know is that there are things that you can do that can increase your funding options for next school year.
Senior Financial Aid Counselor Victoria Hill said “There are two really important things. One of them is your estimated income.” A misconception that students seem to have when filing for financial aid is that their taxes must be filed before they apply. What many students do is hold off filing until they have filed their taxes, and according to Hill, this is a big mistake because students are only required to give an estimation. After a student’s taxes have been filed, and after they have submitted their FAFSA, they still have time to review and make corrections to their document before they are officially awarded aid by the university.
Secondly, Hill said that it is crucial for students to submit their FAFSA by the priority deadline which is February 28. By holding off on submitting your FAFSA, you reduce your options for aid as it is done on a first come first serve basis. When students are awarded aid, they can be awarded grants and or loans. Depending on a student’s income, students who file by the priority deadline have a higher chance of being awarded grants; funding that students do not have to pay back. Grants are the first type of funding to be awarded to students meaning that they are also the first type of funding to be depleted. By filing by the priority deadline, you ensure that you will be among the first considered for grants and loans awarded to students filing for aid.
The last thing that students should keep in mind when filing for financial aid is that the university does not have an abundant supply of funding to award students. Like I mentioned before funding does get depleted so if you wait till the last minute to file, you may miss out on receiving any type of aid. For those who file late, or for whatever reason do not get aid, other financial options are still available, mainly short term loans and private loans. While short term loans can be a savior for temporary cash flow issues, they are generally expected to be paid back in full by the following quarter. As for private loans from banks and other financial institutions, interest rates tend to be higher which is not ideal. In short these are options that are available to students but they should be a last resort.
For those of you out there who are yet to submit your FAFSA, please do so as soon as you can. Everybody hates it but it will take you under an hour to complete and you can potentially save a lot of money. Fortunately, you still have time before the deadline, and even if you miss the deadline still apply as soon as you can. In the long run you’re only hurting yourself if you don’t and you will have fewer funding options to choose from that may not be in your best interest.
To file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, please visit fafsa.ed.gov, and for further questions regarding financial aid at UWT please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 253-692-4374.