Oklahoma’s Promise Deadline

Before you get too far into summer mode, break out your calendars one last time. June 30 is a very important scholarship deadline you don’t want to miss! Students in the eighth, ninth or 10th grades must submit their Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship applications by June 30, 2017.

For those of you who just completed 10th grade, June 30 is your final deadline to apply. Don’t miss out on thousands of dollars in scholarship funds by missing this deadline! Submit your application right away.

To learn more about Oklahoma’s Promise and the qualifications for receiving the scholarship, visit okpromise.org.

DO I QUALIFY FOR FINANCIAL AID IF I’M HOMELESS?

Yes! If you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, you can qualify for financial aid and should complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

A student is considered homeless if he or she lacks fixed, regular and adequate housing. This includes students living in shelters, motels, cars or parks, or who are temporarily living with other people because they have nowhere else to go. Students are also considered homeless if they are fleeing an abusive parent. (Students who are 22 and 23 years old who are unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of becoming homeless qualify for a financial aid dependency override.) Homeless youth determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.

While completing the FAFSA, you will answer questions about your income, assets and personal demographics. One of those questions is, “At any time on or after July 1, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?” If you already have a determination and answer “yes,” you will be able to submit the FAFSA without including your parents’ information. Your school might request documentation of the determination.

If you haven’t been previously determined to be homeless or at risk of being homeless but believe you meet the qualifications, you should answer “No” and contact the financial aid office at the college, university or career technology center you plan to attend to explain your situation. The financial aid administrator will make a determination and advise you on how to proceed.

Visit the links provided below for more information. If you have further questions or wish to speak to someone about your personal status, contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend or visit with your high school counselor.

Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth FAQs
Oklahoma School District Homeless Liaison Directory
McKinney-Vento Homeless Education FAQs
FAFSA Dependency Status Questionnaire for 2017-18

Which FAFSA do I complete for summer classes?

If you’ve visited the FAFSA website lately, you may have noticed there are two applications available: 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. So, which one do you need if you’re taking summer classes? Here’s what you need to know.

Financial aid is determined one year at a time, and follows your school’s academic calendar. Most schools start the academic year in the fall, and the following summer is the end of the year. In this case, your summer financial aid is a “trailer” for the 2016-2017 academic year; you would need to complete the 2016-2017 FAFSA to help pay for summer 2017 classes.

However, some institutions begin their academic year with the summer semester and the following spring is the end of the year. In this case, your summer financial aid is considered a “header” for the 2017-2018 academic year; you would need to complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA to help pay for summer 2017 classes.

All it takes is a quick email, phone call, or visit to your school’s financial aid office to confirm which FAFSA is needed for summer courses. Make sure you check in with them as soon as possible. The last day to submit your 2016-2017 FAFSA is June 30, 2017.

Once you know which FAFSA you need, head over to FAFSA.gov to complete the application!

Paying for College: Should I Save Now or Borrow Later?

Experts have been saying for years that it’s much less expensive to save for college than it is to borrow money to cover the costs of your higher education. To see the huge difference between the two options, read the Saving vs. Borrowing page at OK4Saving.org.

One savings option you’ll want to check out is the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP). Here are a few benefits of the OCSP:

  • It’s a tax-deferred account
  • Multiple family members and friends can contribute to the account on your behalf
  • It can pay for more than just tuition (it can cover fees, some room and board costs, etc.)
  • It can be used at any accredited college in the U.S., and even certain colleges abroad
  • There are several contribution options available that make adding to your OCSP easy and convenient
  • An OSCP can be opened with as little as $100
  • You and others who contribute to your account can save as much as $300,000 for  your education
  • Parents and grandparents can enter the Newborn Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $5,549 contribution to a newborn’s account. The sweepstakes ends April 14, 2018.

Visit OK4Saving.org to learn more.

Five Things to Do the Summer Before College

Congratulations, Class of 2017! You’ve taken your final exams and walked across the stage…Now what? Taking care of a few things this summer will help smooth the transition to college this fall.

  1. Enroll in classes. Classes fill up quickly, leaving you with few choices if you wait too long to register.
  2. Check in with the financial aid office. Follow up to make sure all your paperwork is complete, ask how much and what type of funding you’ll receive, and find out when to expect the funds to arrive.
  3. Buy textbooks. Check with the college bookstore to find out what books are required for your classes. Once you know what you need, shop around! Compare prices at the campus bookstore, used bookstores, and online retailers like Amazon or Half.com to find the best deal. Keep in mind that if you plan to use financial aid to pay for books, you may be required to purchase from the campus bookstore.
  4. Keep applying for scholarships. Take a few minutes and apply for two or three scholarships each week. UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org have gathered thousands of scholarships to make the process easier for you.
  5. Attend orientation and welcome activities. Take advantage of orientation sessions available over the summer and welcome activities the first few weeks of school. You’ll have the chance to meet new people, learn your way around campus, and feel connected to your college.

Now, take a deep breath and enjoy time with your friends and family. Graduating high school is a great accomplishment, so be sure to celebrate while you look forward to your next adventure!

IRS Data Retrieval Tool Update

If you’ve been following our posts over the last few weeks, you’re probably aware that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) has been unavailable for use on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This tool allows FAFSA applicants to download their income tax information from the IRS and import it directly into their FAFSA application. While this situation is inconvenient for some, it’s highly recommended that applicants still complete the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSAs by manually entering in their tax information. The IRS DRT service will be up and running again on October 1, 2017… just in time for the new 2018-19 FAFSA application. Please read IFAP’s announcement for further details on this situation.

Let’s Do Some Myth Busting

You may have heard one or more of the following myths that are common in the world of college financial aid. We’ll tell you the real story.

Myth #1: If I didn’t submit my FAFSA last fall, it’s too late for me to apply for financial aid for the coming academic year.

Fact: You may be surprised to learn that you can submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2017-18 school year through June 30, 2018! Your college must have your correct, completed information by your last day of enrollment in the 2017-18 school year in order to meet this deadline.


Myth #2: Back in the fall, I used my 2015 income and tax information on my 2017-18 FAFSA, so I need to update that information with my 2016 figures after I’ve filed my taxes.

Fact: Since the FAFSA is now available each year on October 1 (three months earlier than it used to be), there’s a new requirement for the income and tax information that you must use on your application. Instead of using data from the prior year, you’ll submit the information from two years prior to the year for which you’re applying for financial aid. So you won’t use your 2016 tax info until you submit your 2018-19 FAFSA.


Myth #3: My family makes too much money to qualify for financial aid, so I don’t need to submit a FAFSA.

Fact: There are many factors used in the formula that determines your eligibility for financial aid—not just income. While it’s true that having a great family income may keep you from receiving a Pell Grant, there are still other forms of financial aid that are worth looking into, meaning you’ll probably still need to submit a FAFSA. Scholarship committees may also ask to see your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of all the data you submitted on your FAFSA. So why not give it a try? The FAFSA is free, and it could open up opportunities for financial aid that can help you achieve your dream of higher education.

Oklahoma’s Promise Day

Oklahoma's Promise Day 2017 logo, #KeeptheOKPromiseOklahoma’s Promise allows eighth-, ninth- or 10th-grade students from families with an income of $50,000 or less to earn a college tuition scholarship. Family income may not exceed $100,000 at the time the student begins college and before receiving the scholarship. Students must also complete a specific high school curriculum, achieve at least a 2.50 GPA in the curriculum and overall abide by certain conduct requirements in high school.

On Tuesday, April 18, Oklahoma’s Promise will hold a rally at the State Capitol to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary. Please join us to show appreciation for Governor Mary Fallin and the Legislature’s ongoing support of the Oklahoma’s Promise program and to encourage elected officials to continue to protect the program’s dedicated funding source.

The rally will be held at the Oklahoma State Capitol, first floor rotunda at 12:30 p.m. A reception will follow on the fourth floor rotunda at 1:30 p.m.

Email okpromiseday@osrhe.edu to confirm you will join us for Oklahoma’s Promise Day!

 

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool Remains Down Until October 1

Students, Parents and Educators!

News is circulating today that explains why the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool was taken offline last month and will continue to be offline until the beginning of the next FAFSA cycle, which is October 1, 2017. Read this article from The Washington Post to learn more.

The FAFSA can still be completed by manually entering your 2015 tax information, however the process may take a little longer.