College students whose family income has changed due to the pandemic may be eligible for more financial aid than they qualified for prior to the pandemic.
When students fill out their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the expected family contribution (EFC) is a major factor in determining how much federal aid each student receives.
Jessica Hill, assistant director of financial aid shares that if any students' EFC has been reduced or altered during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may be eligible to receive more federal aid.
“There are some changes that we can make after the FAFSA has been completed to better reflect what the family’s current financial situation is,” Hill said.
Hill says that if any parent has been laid off or experienced income reduction can qualify you to earn more student aid.
Hill and Cindy Spotts-Conrad, director of financial aid, encourage students to not only update this year's FAFSA but also complete the 2021-2022 application as well.
“The 2021-2022 application is open and to make sure students receive the maximum amount of aid possible, they should have their FAFSA done by Feb. 1," Spotts-Conrad said.
Spotts-Conrad shares that this entitles students to an array of different federal aids like grants and loans.
Students in Missouri are also automatically applying to Missouri Access by submitting their FAFSA. Missouri Access is a need-based, state program that helps fund students access to colleges.
“Student qualification through EFC is higher than that of a pell grant,” Hill said.
Hill explains that it is more likely to receive funding from Missouri Access when students submit their FAFSA.
While FAFSA is not a requirement to be enrolled in college classes, it’s highly recommended. Spotts-Conrad and Hill share that many students believe they don’t qualify for aid, but that may not be the case.
Senior, Anesha Quarles, has applied for FAFSA all four years of college and has received benefits each year. The communication major shares that she pays for school herself and whatever FAFSA doesn’t cover, she covers by taking out small loans.
“FAFSA gets me through school. I don’t see where I’d come up with the money to pay tuition considering I’m a young adult with other responsibilities,” Quarles said.
“If a student believes that they should’ve received more aid than they received it’s most likely because there is an error on the application,” Hill said.
The two directors encourage students to visit with the MWSU financial aid office so they can help correct any errors there might be.
Spotts-Conrad and Hill are also encouraging students to visit with the financial aid office if students have any questions, concerns, or need help with filling out their FAFSA applications.