Executive Director of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - JUNE 23, 2011
State University System students need to understand growing importance of 'FAFSA' in determining, receiving financial aid
TIMELY INFO: Deadlines occurring June 30 and through 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— State university students who plan to receive many forms of federal or state financial aid in the 2011-2012 academic year must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online form in order to comply with existing and new requirements.
A student’s FAFSA is critical because it is required to apply for any federal student aid, such as Pell grants, federal loans, and work-study programs. In addition, the FAFSA is also utilized across the State University System of 11 institutions to apply for most state and university-specific aid, in addition to most scholarship applications. The State University System has a total of 321,503 students across all degree-seeking programs as of the academic year starting Fall 2010.
“The Florida Board of Governors devoted much of its time in January conducting a student financial aid workshop, and the financial aid directors all agreed and informed us that the timely submission of the FAFSA is key is ensuring that students take advantage of all opportunities for financial assistance,” said Board of Governors Chair Ava L. Parker of Jacksonville.
Some of the emerging and growing circumstances requiring a FAFSA that can occur outside of a traditional federal aid determination include:
• Eligibility for a student loan by another public source, or a private bank or credit union;
• Meeting documented "need" as part of merit-based scholarships; and
• Special work-study opportunities may mandate the form.
“In addition to now being a legislative requirement for some financial aid, the FAFSA is quickly becoming the primary tool for assessing financial aid eligibility beyond its traditional usage for federal aid options such as grants and loans – so we are today sending out that message loud and clear," said State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. “Further, it is a significant process in order to prepare the completed application to be reviewed by the federal government, so we want to especially ensure any family or student who may qualify for a myriad of financial aid options has completed the application properly and on time.”
Any student wanting to acquire federal loans during the summer term 2011 should fill out an “error-free” FAFSA before the corresponding June 30, 2011, deadline. Financial aid offices also recommend filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible for the new academic year – of July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 – in order to be considered for the maximum amount of federal aid for which they may qualify. The student must have an “error-free” FAFSA prior to receiving any federal aid.
“The form, once completed and processed with federal confirmation called ‘error-free,’ will provide valuable information to university and college financial aid offices about student eligibility for many types of aid,” said Lynda Page, associate director in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs at the Board of Governors office for the State University System. “It is to the student’s benefit to submit FAFSA as soon as possible, since aid is generally on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, especially with federal dollars available for disbursement.”
If a student is separately anticipating scholarship funds for the upcoming academic year during 2011-2012, it is recommended by financial aid officers at universities that students verify whether the FAFSA is needed to receive scholarship funds. If so, they must make sure to complete an “error-free” FAFSA by the time of their scholarship disbursement so that there are no surprises or challenges.
Page urged students to make time to see a financial aid adviser or counselor on their campus: "They are busier than ever, but they are experts in assisting students through the process and want to ensure as many State University System-enrolled students are fully aware of the FAFSA."
For more information, see the federal government program’s web site at www.FAFSA.ed.gov as well as your local state university financial aid office. Some of the many documents needed include the following: the student's Social Security card; a driver license, if applicable; previous tax year’s W-2 forms and other records of money earned; the student’s (and spouse, if married) previous year's Federal Income Tax Return; and any foreign tax return, or tax return for certain U.S. territories, such as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and others as specified on the site. Additional information required will be the student’s parents’ most recent Federal Income Tax Return (if you are claimed as a dependent); a student’s current bank statements; and any of the student’s current business and investment or mortgage information, business and farm records, stocks, bonds and similar records.
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