Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mistakes to avoid when applying for financial aid

Financial aid helps put community college within reach for thousands of Virginians, but a few common mistakes and misconceptions can prove costly. VCCS Director of Financial Aid, Laurie Owens, offers some insights on how to navigate a path to success.
1. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is available Jan. 1, but students often don’t apply until the last minute. What sort of problems does this present?
Unlike the Federal Pell Grant, there are many forms of financial aid that are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis due to the fact that there is a limited pool of funding. Therefore, it is imperative that students apply early to maximize their eligibility for financial aid. Furthermore, if additional information is needed from students to determine their eligibility, that can slow the process down. It is important that students account for this possibility by applying early. In this way, their aid can be in place in time to register for classes. What can financial aid advisors do to help? It is imperative that colleges make it clear to students what their priority dates are for financial aid. Colleges accomplish this in a variety of ways including but not limited to outreach events at local high schools and in the community, posting information on their websites, and reaching out to current and perspective students using a variety of communication methods.

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