Students who submitted their 2018-2019 FAFSA before the March 1 priority deadline have a chance to earn all the financial aid Keene State College has to offer.
Interim Director of Financial Aid Susan Howard said students looking for a chance to receive all possible financial aid opportunities had to fill out the FAFSA form by the end of the business day on March 1 in order to give the Financial Aid Office enough time to be able to process it before the summer when bills are sent out.
“The priority part of this means we will award everybody first who met the deadline, and then after that, if we don’t have any institutional funds left after, we award everyone who met the deadline. Then, we’ll award federal aid only,” Howard said.
Students who miss the priority deadline still have a chance of receiving aid.
“Missing the deadline doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t get Keene State aid, but it means they might not get Keene State aid,” Howard said. “Once we award everyone who’s on time, if there’s money left, then we would move to the next group and it would be on a first-come-first-serve [basis].”
Those intending on receiving any kind of aid won’t be able to wait much longer past the priority deadline, however.
“April 1 would be the absolute last date that anybody could file and expect to possibly get some Federal Aid for this current year. So the window is Oct. 1 of 2017 to, say, April 1 of 2018 for this current year to get anything,” Howard said.
Katelyn O’Rourke, a junior and public health major with a minor in psychology, said that while the March 1 deadline gives students enough time to submit their FAFSAs, it would be helpful if the deadline was extended. “I think we can always use more time though, in my opinion, especially with being in college and struggling to get the money for it.”
Sophomore video production major Zachary DeGroot submitted his FAFSA form two weeks before the deadline and said that he found the form easy to fill out. “A lot of the stuff kind of just transferred over for me. I didn’t really have to change much information for renewing my FAFSA, so it seemed to be pretty easy.”
Howard said the financial aid deadline falling on the first of March is common in higher education. “I’ve been doing financial aid and higher ed for 40 years, and March 1 has always been the deadline at any place I’ve ever worked. There’s a lot involved in putting a financial aid package together. Some people have very complicated financial situations or family situations and it takes us months to put pieces together sometimes for families, so we want to give everybody enough time to gather everything that’s needed and for us to process.”
Less than two weeks before the deadline, the Financial Aid Office sent students an email reminding them that they were accepting submissions for the 2018-2019 FAFSA. Written in red letters, the email also said that the form was asking for 2016 income and tax data.
The reason why the form asks for tax information from two years back is convenience to both the college and the student, Howard said. “A couple years ago, Congress changed the way financial aid is processed, so it goes back two years rather than one year, and the intention is to benefit first-time applicants for financial aid who used to have to wait, sometimes, until April, May or June to find out if they were getting an award. This allows us to start in October, rather than January. It gives the schools a three-month head-start to work with families.”
One piece of advice Howard gave was for students to keep their tax and financial information together in one place when filing the FAFSA to make the process easier.
Vincent Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org