Students encouraged to apply for FAFSA before deadlines

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

With the start of the year, students are now able to start filing for FAFSA for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid became available on Jan. 1. Students are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA early in order to become eligible for maximum financial aid.

Over winter break, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships sent an email to students talking about the FAFSA, including deadlines and available scholarships that students may be eligible for.

According to the email, students wanting aid for fall 2015, spring 2016 or summer 2016 must complete the 2015-2016 FAFSA by their last date of attendance or June 30, 2016, whichever is sooner.

It also states that the 2014-2015 FAFSA, which applies to the fall 2014, spring 2015 and summer 2015 semesters, may still be completed before June 30 of this year or the last date of the student’s attendance.

However, in order for a student to receive the full benefits of filing the FAFSA, they should do so as early as possible.

Carol Waldmann, interim director of financial aid said students who apply later could potentially miss out on some of the federal funding they could receive.

“It is very important that all students file the FAFSA early,” Waldmann said. “With limited federal, state and institutional funding, if a student files their FAFSA too late, they’re likely to miss out on funding that doesn’t have to be repaid.”

This is especially true when it comes to first-year students and their parents who are unfamiliar with the FAFSA process.

“First-year students and their parents should file a FAFSA, as the FAFSA is the only way to determine if they are eligible for Pell Grants, other grants, need-based scholarships, Work Study, and student loans,” Waldmann said. “Filing the FAFSA is free so there is no reason not to file.”

These funds are known as grants, and if students are able to meet certain requirements, then it is possible to receive this type of aid. One such type of grant is known as the Monetary Award Program.

The MAP Grant is available to Illinois student attending Illinois schools. Like other types of grants, the MAP Grant does not have to be repaid; however, students would need to demonstrate financial need.

The deadline in order to receive the MAP Grant is usually in February.

“All institutions, including EIU, award financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Waldmann said.

“Our funding from the federal government and our institutional funding is very limited,” Waldmann said. “The sooner a student files the FAFSA, the better chance they have of receiving a financial aid package that can help them afford a college education at EIU.”

Students can log onto Eastern’s website to search for financial aid scholarships as well as other scholarships that Eastern has to offer.

 

Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]