Now's the time for students to apply for federal aid
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2013
2/24/13 at 2:22 AM
The deadline is looming for high school seniors and current college students to maximize the amount of student aid they can receive by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The application must be filed to receive any federal or state grants, loans or work-study opportunities to help fund tuition to colleges or universities. Oklahoma's deadline for submission of the form is March 1. Applicants can still fill out an application after that, but they won't qualify for some grants and programs.
"Basically, it's the gateway to federal student aid as well as some state funds," said Karen Jeffers, director of financial aid at Tulsa Community College. "Pell grants, work study and student loans."
Parents or legal guardians can fill out the FAFSA form online and submit it to the two- or four-year institutions that the student is interested in attending. The college or university will then determine what, if any, type of aid the student qualifies for. Forms can be printed out, but more schools are only accepting online applications.
Certain information is required on the application, including Social Security number or permanent resident card number; income information, such as 2012 W-2 or tax return, recent pay stub or 2011 tax return; and current bank balances and investment information.
People do not have to wait until 2012 tax returns are filed to complete the application, Jeffers said.
"Estimate their income, and once they file their tax return they can go back in and add that information," she said.
Even if students doesn't think they qualify for aid, they should still apply because some scholarships and programs require that the application be filed.
Even those who have been out of high school for a time or took a break from college should apply if they want to return to school.
"To receive aid, all you have to be is either a high school graduate, have a GED or a home-school diploma," Jeffers said. "It doesn't matter if you've had a break in education."
The application must be filed every year the student plans on attending college.
"It's an annual process. Every year when they start thinking about their tax return, they also need to think about FAFSA," she said.
It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete, Jeffers said, and once it's submitted, applicants will get a response confirming the form was received and that it will be forwarded to the colleges or universities listed on the application.
Students should fill out the FAFSA sooner rather than later to guarantee schools will get their application in time to award student aid, if eligible.
"The sooner you get it filled out, the better it will be," she said.
Student aid eligibility
An applicant must:
To fill out the FAFSA online, go to tulsaworld.com/fafsa
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
- Have a high school diploma or GED certificate, pass an approved "ability to benefit" test or have completed a high school education in a home-school setting that is recognized as a home school or private school under state law.
- Enroll in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
- If male, be registered with the Selective Service System.
- Meet academic progress standards set by the school.
- Use federal student aid only for education purposes.
- Not be in default on a federal loan or owe money on a federal grant.
For more information or assistance, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.
Original Print Headline: Students' FAFSA deadline nears
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Oklahoma State University students are among those who fill out the FAFSA in an effort to receive grants, loans or work-study opportunities. KT KING / For the Tulsa World