Financial Aid office stresses importance of applying early

In the financial aid office, students stand propped against the wall waiting to meet with a counselor, waiting area seats filled with students who chose not to apply early for financial aid. Luckily, financial aid advisors are still assisting students looking to make tuition payments for the spring semester.Deadlines are not actually set for spring aid applications, but students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. For summer school aid, students should aim for getting paperwork in by February 29. The target deadline is March 31. “We encourage students to apply early, by the end of February,” Lisa Tatom, director of financial aid said. “We’re processing everything as they come in right now. For spring, there’s no deadline that beyond which we will not process until the end of the semester. After that we’re limited with what we can do.”Although financial aid dates are not set in stone, other important deadlines need to be met. “The deadlines students need to remember are the payment deadlines. As soon as you file your taxes for the 07 year, apply for financial aid. The sooner, the better,” Tatom said. Grant money, as well as various loans, are available to help curb the cost of college expenses. While grant money is readily available, there is a set amount of funding to split between students. Early applications increase the chances of receiving funds. Through the financial aid office, students have access and can be assisted with applications for ACG and Smart grants, Pell and Stafford grants, as well as various loans. Funding schedules start over every fall semester. Because fall and spring semesters are significantly longer and costlier than summer semesters, a larger portion of the money is funneled into them rather than summer. “Since fall and spring are longer terms than summer, that’s where the bulk of the money goes. So if you use your eligibility up in fall and springthere’s no loan money left for summer,” Tatom said.The financial aid office stresses timeliness as a good tool for financial aid applications. The upcoming tax season is a prime opportunity for students to find extra funding for school expenses. The biggest point to emphasize when filing paperwork is time. As with other departments on and around campus, the finance department sees high amounts of paperwork. Not waiting until right before deadlines to file can alleviate stress. Fill out the necessary paperwork well before the last-minute rush, and file anything important as soon as possible. “At this point they should already have their applications in for spring- if they haven’t done it, well the payments are past,” Tatom said. “File taxes earlyas soon as they’re filed, it’s time to apply for financial aid. That’s the key to getting money- more of what you need, more of what you have.”

Leave a Reply