Financial aid watch loans, fill out FAFSA: March 1 FAFSA deadline almost here

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 The priority deadline to receive financial aid for the 2008-2009 school year is rapidly approaching.  Before March 1, every student who plans on attending Western during the Fall 2008 semester should file their taxes, fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for all scholarships and grants available. 

 “Many students think they won’t get any financial aid so they just don’t apply,” Angie Beam, assistant director of financial aid said.

 Thanks to Governor Matt Blunt and a State Student Financial Aid Committee in Jefferson City that Beam served on, Access Missouri was established to be a simpler, more predictable program that would increase eligibility for Missouri students.

 “The Access Missouri funding which is new this year, has given our students ‘gift aid’ to put toward their educational expenses,” Lisa Siudym, director of financial aid, said. “We have seen that with the program, some students are able to take more classes, work less at their job and also reduce the amount of their student loan indebtedness.”

 Before Access Missouri, Missouri’s financial aid was split between two programs that based need on each university’s cost of attendance and each student’s expected family contribution. For the 2006-2007 school year, 124 students received $148,297 from the Gallagher Program, and 115 students received $266,466 from the Missouri College Guarantee.  Together, 239 Western students received $414,763 in Missouri aid. 

With the implementation of Access Missouri for the 2007-2008 school year, over 1,400 Western students received $2,007,810 in aid.

According to a Dec. 14, press release from Blunt’s office, “Across the state last year 16,400 students received needs-based scholarships. This year the governor’s support for additional funding has more than doubled that number.  More than 36,000 students have already received aid.”

To be eligible for an Access Missouri Grant, students must complete the FAFSA by the priority deadline; have an expected family contribution that is less than $12,000; be a Missouri resident; be a full-time student and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.

“With the old system, we would never know if the students were getting money before school started where as now with Access Missouri, we can help students plan for college after they fill out their FAFSA,” Beam said.

After filling out their FAFSA, students are encouraged to visit the Financial Aid office to discuss their financial options.
“It is very easy to apply for [Access Missouri] since a student just needs to complete their FAFSA application online by our recommended priority date of March 1,” Siudym said. Missouri Western makes March 1 its priority date so all Western students are eligible for the most financial aid. The state’s priority deadline is April 1.

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