The number one worry for many college students and for high school students preparing to enter college is how they are going to pay for college.
Much of the aid that students receive is federal aid, which is one really important reason to be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
February is Financial Aid Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time for you to find motivation to sit down and tackle your application. The FAFSA can be filled out online at www.fafsa.ed.gov or it can be printed out and mailed in.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are deadlines that could determine how much aid you receive, as funds are limited. The priority application window for Cal Poly Pomona is Jan. 1 to March 2. Applications completed after March 2 will be considered for limited funding only.
If you’re planning on completing your FAFSA soon, be sure to keep these tips in mind.
1. Start early.
The more time you give yourself to complete the FAFSA, the less rushed you will feel, which will help ensure you don’t make mistakes. That said, you can make updates or corrections to your application after March 2 and still hold priority status. If you don’t turn it in by then, you won’t be eligible for certain kinds of aid, for example the Cal Grant.
2. Get your documents together.
Gather your most recent year’s tax forms or end of year pay stubs, W2 forms, tuition statement and your social security number before settling down. If you are a dependent student, you will need the same information for your parents as well.
3. Estimate if you need to.
If you or your parents haven’t filed taxes yet you can still fill out the FAFSA. It is acceptable to estimate income with the help of W2 forms. Once you file taxes, make a reminder to yourself to update your FAFSA as soon as possible. The deadline for community awards is September 2, but it would be better to have all parts of the FAFSA updated and complete before then.
4. Using a renewal can help you save time.
If you have filled out the FAFSA before, you can fill out a renewal form that recalls some of your information from previous years.
5. Make sure to fill out every field.
None of the answers should be left blank. If the answer is zero, be sure to write “0.”
Once you’re done, remember that there may be other forms you need to fill out specific to your college. Check your CPP email and Bronco Direct to see what additional documents are needed to determine your eligibility.
Also be sure to look into other ways to offset the cost of college, such as aid, scholarships and loans through other means. Fill out the Cal Poly Pomona General Scholarship Application by March 4 to apply for more than 100 scholarships at once.
For more information on financial aid, see Cal Poly Pomona’s Financial Aid website or call the office at (909) 869-3700.