Act now in applying for college financial aid

Email this article 07/12/2011

The clock is ticking, but there’s still time to apply for financial aid to attend classes this fall at Southwest Texas Junior College.

"I’ve run across several prospective students recently who told me they thought it was too late to apply for financial aid," SWTJC Financial Aid Director Ana Almaraz said. "Truth is, it’s never too late to apply, but if a student is planning on attending classes this fall they need to file their application soon."

 

 

According to Almaraz, it usually takes four to six weeks from the time a student files an application to find out if they qualify.

"Prospective students need to fill our their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online or come by our office and let us help them get started," Almaraz said. "Every year, students wait until the last minute and it creates problems for everyone. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for students to get their FAFSA filed, if at all possible, within the next couple of weeks."

In addition to federal assistance, Almaraz notes that a FAFSA is also required for state grants, student loans and many local scholarships.

"It all starts with the FAFSA," Almaraz said. "Until you get that filed, there’s really no way of knowing if you qualify for any of the financial aid that is available."

The online application is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Step-by-step instructions for filing a FAFSA are included on the web site. Almaraz advises students and parents to sign their FAFSA electronically by applying online for a PIN.

"We encourage students to file their FAFSA online because it is faster and easier. The more you can do online, the faster your application will be processed and that’s what you want," Almaraz said. "If you have problems getting started, or run in to problems when filling out your application, that’s when our office can help."

Contact the SWTJC Financial Aid Office at 830.591.7343 with your questions, or log on to the college website at www.swtjc.net.

To file a FAFSA, students will need the following information:

* Student and parent (if providing parent information) Social Security numbers.

* The applicant’s driver’s license number, if you have one.

* The applicant’s alien registration number, if not a U.S. citizen.

* 2010 federal tax information or tax returns for yourself, your spouse and for your parents (if providing parent information).

* Records of untaxed income, such as Social Security benefits, welfare benefits (TANF) and veteran benefits, for the applicant and the applicant’s parents (if providing parent information).

* Information on savings, investments, business and farm assets for the applicant and the applicant’s parents (if providing parent information).

According to Almaraz, every year Texas college students receive billions of dollars in financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study positions.

"There are resources available and there is really only one way to find out what a student may qualify for," Almaraz said. "File a FAFSA and the sooner the better."

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