FAFSA helps prepare students for college

Starting their search. sophomores Jasmyn Jurarez and Corina Hludzinski and junior Jessica Rodriguez talk to a representative from Alamo Colleges about admissions rates and programs the school offers. The college fair was held Nov.9. Photo Sabrina Fielden

Starting their search. sophomores Jasmyn Jurarez and Corina Hludzinski and junior Jessica Rodriguez talk to a representative from Alamo Colleges about admissions rates and programs the school offers. The college fair was held Nov.9. Photo Sabrina Fielden

The time is here. The FAFSA is now open, and seniors begin to get applications in fast to qualify for money for college.The Free Application for Federal Student Aid determines a college applicant’s eligibility for financial aid, including Pell Grants and work study funds.FAFSA opened Oct. 1, 2016, and the priority deadline closes March 1, 2017. Some colleges around the nation require students to complete FAFSA as part of the admissions process.

 

Students need to fill out the FAFSA every year until they receive the degree they are seeking.The information is then used to develop financial aid packages for potential students.Financial aid is based on financial need, and in order to offer financial packages, college financial aid officers look at students’ financial needs to determine who should be awarded financial assistance.Students who apply early are more likely to be awarded scholarships and grants available at their schools of choice, according to College and Career Readiness Technician  Rachael Brantley, in the GO Center, room A106.“I was informed by Mrs. Brantley on what FAFSA is,” senior Christian Miranda said.“I applied for FAFSA because I don’t have the amount of money I need to be able to pay for college by myself,since my parents are not helping me. I applied to UTSA and UT.”Students’ reasons for completing FAFSA varies.

 

Some students complete FAFSA because of the information Brantley gave them or because they do not have financial support through their parents. Others seek funds to cover costs that they and their parents are unable to cover themselves.Brantley has personal experience that influences her advice to students preparing to enter college.“For me, personally, when I had a problem, and I filled one out [the FAFSA],  didn’t qualify for the Pell Grant,” Brantley said. “I was on my own at the time, and half way through the school year, I lost my job. Then, I went to my financial aid office.” Brantley said filling out the FAFSA during a student’s senior year is imperative for a successful start and for securing the financial assistance that is available.To complete FAFSA, students will need their social security numbers, as well as their parents’ most recent federal income tax returns, if they are listed as dependents on their parents’ income tax, W-2 forms, bank statements and a Federal Student Aid ID to sign in online.

 

If students need assistance completing FAFSA or getting an FSA ID, they may speak with Brantley in the GO Center. She also offers students assistance in identifying financial aid and scholarships for which they may qualify.Once students complete the FAFSA application, they request for their information to be sent to colleges of their choice. The Go Center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. but closes for lunch from 11:10 a.m.to 11:40 a.m. daily. Students may go during lunch from 12:39 p.m. to 2:19 p.m. for anything college related.