All posts by UCanGo2

You’ve Completed the FAFSA. Now What?

Congratulations! You’ve completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submitted it for processing, so now you’re wondering what happens next. Here are a few suggestions for what you can do while waiting to hear from the colleges to which you sent your FAFSA.

Apply for Scholarships:

While you’re waiting for correspondence regarding your FAFSA, you should apply for as many scholarships as possible. Visit UCanGo2.org to find a list of available scholarships sorted by deadline and category. We recommend that seniors apply for two to three scholarships a week.

OKcollegestart.org also offers a database of over 20,000 scholarships. Students can set up a profile and provide answers to numerous questions that will narrow down the results to scholarships that you’re eligible to apply for. Check it out now!

Check your Admission Status:

Make sure to visit with the admission office at the colleges to which you’ve applied and ask about your current admission status. Even if you’ve already been accepted, the college may request additional information or have important next steps for you to complete. We recommend you keep in contact with the college’s Admission office consistently to guarantee you don’t miss any deadlines or requirements.

Look at Housing Options:

When you decide which college you’ll attend, you’ll need somewhere to live. Make sure to review the requirements of your college of choice. Are freshmen required to live on campus? Once you know the answer to this question, look at your housing options and the prices that are associated with them. Will it be more cost effective to live in a community style dorm or an off-campus apartment? Is the college close enough for you to live at home? It’s important to look at all your options.

Explore Majors and Careers: If you’re  undecided on a major or career choice, take this time to explore the options available at each of your favorite colleges. OKcollegestart.org provides a variety of resources that you can use to explore majors and career paths. The admission office at your college can also connect you with specific departments on campus to answer any  questions you may have about careers and majors offered.

Don’t Forget to Complete Your FAFSA!

The busiest time of the year is just around the corner. Before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins, take time to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2022-23 FAFSA opened Oct. 1, which means many students have already had the chance to successfully submit their application. Now is the time to successfully submit yours! This application allows the financial aid office at your chosen college(s) to determine your eligibility to receive many types of financial aid. While some aid does not run out, other types are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. If you submit your FAFSA too late, you may miss out on important funding. There are a few other significant reasons to submit your FAFSA now:

  • Many colleges and universities are setting early enrollment and institutional scholarship deadlines in November and December. During the application process, they’ll want to know if you’ve submitted your FAFSA.
  • It’s not uncommon for a scholarship committee to ask for a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), which you receive after you submit the FAFSA. Completing your FAFSA early ensures that you won’t miss important deadlines.
  • It’s better to complete the FAFSA now so you can focus on other college planning tasks in the spring.
  • Since you’ll need to submit the FAFSA each year you’re in college, completing your application now allows you to become familiar with the FAFSA form for next year. If you’re in high school, take this time to ask questions about the application process with your parents and school counselor so you’ll know what to expect next fall.  

Don’t wait any longer. Complete your FAFSA today at StudentAid.gov.

National Scholarship Month

November is National Scholarship Month! That means we’re raising awareness about the numerous scholarship dollars that are available to help you cover college expenses. A 2020 study indicated there are approximately 1.7 million private scholarships and fellowships with a combined worth of over 7 billion dollars offered annually. There are numerous organizations and hundreds of websites that offer scholarships to students preparing for college, it just takes a little effort and determination to apply for as many as you can. To assist you in putting your best foot forward, here are a few tips to help you submit excellent scholarship applications:

  • Follow directions. It’s important to read all scholarship instructions carefully before starting the application. If there is a word count to abide by, be sure to meet the requirements. Also, submit all necessary documents. Ask for letters of recommendation, copies of your transcript and other documentation weeks before the scholarship deadline.
  • Be creative.  Think outside the box on scholarship questions. Be creative and original when writing your essay responses. If you’re asked why you deserve the scholarship, explain why it’s important for you to go to college. Talk about your academic and career goals, as well as the challenges you’ve overcome to reach those goals. Also, tell a story only you can tell. Discuss your involvement with a school organization or a part-time job and describe the skills you’ve gained from those opportunities. Remember that with every experience you’ve encountered, you’ve learned something. Use those learned lessons to fuel your essay responses.
  • Proofread your work. Completing a scholarship application can feel very rewarding; however, it’s only the first step. Proofreading is the next crucial stage in this process. Read your scholarship essay aloud to see if you need to make any adjustments. Also, ask a non-relative, such as a teacher or counselor, to read your essay – and be open to the constructive criticism they give you.
  • Find options that reflect your interests. Applying for scholarships can seem like a lot of work. Yet, if you find scholarships that are interesting to you, the application process can be enjoyable. Search for opportunities that align with your passions. Then writing essays and creating scholarship videos will be fun and exciting, instead of time consuming and tedious.
  • Never give up! Don’t get discouraged when you don’t receive a scholarship award; just keep applying. Your persistence will win out in the end. Keep searching for unique scholarships. Ask local businesses and churches about scholarship opportunities, as well as your current education institution. The goal of scholarships is to assist you with covering the costs of college. The more scholarships you apply for, the more likely you are to gain that extra assistance. To learn more about scholarships or to search for interesting opportunities, check out our Scholarship Success Guide or go to UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org.

Find College Information on OKcollegestart.org

As you’re deciding which college to attend, there are several factors to consider. How much will it cost? Do they offer the courses and major I’m interested in pursuing? What sports are offered and do they provide scholarships? All of this and more can be found when you visit OKcollegestart.org.

OKcollegestart.org offers detailed school profiles for colleges, universities and career technology centers in Oklahoma and nationwide. Click on the College Planning tab to explore schools, programs and majors. From here you can see a variety of information about your schools of interest.

Review the information offered and save it to make an educated decision on the college that’s the best fit for you!

Can Homeless Students Complete the FAFSA?

It’s recommended all students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, regardless of their living situation or extenuating circumstances. If you are currently experiencing homelessness, review these questions to determine your status on the FAFSA:

  • Were you homeless or were you self-supporting and at risk of being homeless on or after July 1, 2021?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2021 did you receive a determination from any of the entities listed below that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless, or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
    • Your high school or school district homeless liaison
    • The director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • The director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll be considered homeless and will not need parental information to complete the FAFSA. At this point you may continue filling out the FAFSA as an independent student.

If you answered no to the questions above, the financial aid offices at the colleges you’ve listed on your FAFSA can still consider you as homeless if:

  • You are homeless, or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless. Homeless means you are lacking fixed, regular, and adequate housing, which includes living in shelters, parks, motels, hotels, public spaces, camping grounds, cars, abandoned buildings, or temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go. Also, if you are living in any of these situations and fleeing an abusive parent, you may be considered homeless even if you parent would otherwise provide you a place to live.
  • You are unaccompanied, which means you are not living in the physical custody of your parent(s) or guardian(s).

If you believe you meet these conditions and would like to follow up with the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend, continue on with your FAFSA.

If you’re unsure if you meet the requirements for homelessness on the FAFSA and don’t know who to contact, visit your high school counselor first. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction and help you navigate this process.

This Year, Try the DRT!

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for academic year 2022-2023 is now available. As you prepare to complete and submit the new FAFSA, don’t forget about a handy tool that’s offered to you–the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

At your request, the IRS DRT will automatically transfer your financial information from the required tax return to your FAFSA, saving you all the time you would normally spend entering the information yourself.

The FAFSA will ask you a few questions to determine your eligibility to use the DRT; if you are deemed eligible, you’ll be asked if you want to automatically transfer the information from the IRS to your FAFSA. Using the IRS DRT ensures the financial information on your FAFSA will be reported accurately, meaning a financial aid office will have one less reason to contact you for additional information.

To learn more about the IRS DRT, visit StudentAid.gov.

FAFSA Update

Before completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), there is a new update you’ll want to review.

“The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The ARP made the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits non-taxable for each taxpayer with incomes less than $150,000. The untaxed portion of unemployment benefits increases to $20,400 for applicants who have a tax filing status of married-filing-jointly (if both tax filers received benefits).

FSA expects to see an issue with aid eligibility determination for some 2022-23 FAFSA filers as well as Income Driven Repayment applicants for whom loan payment amounts are based on 2020 tax information, even if the IRS DRT was used in either circumstance.

Tax filers who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and filed taxes prior to March 11, 2021, will have a higher Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on their original tax record compared to those who filed (or amended) after the enaction of the ARP. 

FAFSA filers who meet the conditions above and use the IRS DRT for the 2022–23 year will have a higher AGI, resulting in a higher EFC which may potentially reduce their eligibility for federal need-based aid.

Financial Aid Administrators are encouraged to work with applicants affected by the ARP who filed their taxes before March 11, 2021, to use professional judgement to adjust the applicant’s AGI (or the AGI of the applicant’s parents or spouse, if applicable) as appropriate.”

For more information, visit https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/library/electronic-announcements/2021-09-30/impact-american-rescue-plan-change-tax-treatment-unemployment-benefits-student-aid-eligibility-cycle-2022-23 or https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/new-exclusion-of-up-to-10200-of-unemployment-compensation.

The FAFSA is Now Available!

A new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) becomes available each year on Oct. 1. The FAFSA for the 2022-2023 academic year is now available and high school seniors should be prepared to submit their application as soon as possible.

Your FAFSA will be used to determine your eligibility for federal and state financial aid—money that will help you pay for college. Since some types of aid are first-come, first served, it’s important to submit your FAFSA as soon after Oct. 1 as you can.

Here are some things to remember:

  • The FAFSA is free; you should never have to pay to submit your FAFSA.
  • It’s a snapshot of your (and possibly your parents’) financial situation which is used to determine how much aid you may be eligible to receive.
  • When you submit a FAFSA, you’re not making any commitments to attend a certain school or to borrow student loans; you’re merely giving permission to the college(s) of your choice to discuss your financial aid options with you.
  • The FAFSA’s not a one-time thing. You’ll need to submit a new FAFSA for each year that you need help paying for college.
  • To submit your application online, you’ll need to set up a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID)—a username and password that will serve as your electronic signature. A parent may also need to create their own FSA ID. To create an FSA ID, go to StudentAid.gov and choose ‘Create Account.’
  • Once your FSA ID is established, you can use it to complete your FAFSA at StudentAid.gov anytime on or after Oct. 1.

There are two questions that will appear on the FAFSA again this year, but are no longer valid.

  • One question asks males: “Do you want us to register you with the Selective Service System?” Although federal law still requires males age 18-25 to be registered with Selective Service, it won’t affect your eligibility for aid if you haven’t registered yet and choose not to register on the FAFSA.
  • The other question is: “Have you been convicted of the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid?” While this question has never affected high school seniors, those who have received federal student aid in the past will no longer lose their eligibility due to a previous drug conviction.

Financial aid officers at the colleges you’ve listed on your FAFSA have been instructed to ignore any comments on these two questions so that you will qualify for student aid if otherwise eligible.

For more information about the FAFSA and federal eligibility requirements, be sure to check out other articles on this website, view the resources on UCanGo2.org and visit StudentAid.gov.

Completing the 2022-23 FAFSA

It’s almost time to start the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA! This application will help determine your financial aid eligibility if you plan to attend college in the fall of 2022. We’ve created a helpful list of steps to guide you through the application process.

  1. Gather Materials: Before getting started, you’ll need to make sure you have your Social Security card, current bank statements, and your 2020 W2 and tax return. If you’re a dependent student, you’ll also need your parent(s)’ financial information and 2020 tax returns.
  2. Create an FSA ID: The FSA ID, or Federal Student Aid ID, is a username and password that you’ll use to log in to your FAFSA. It will also serve as your electronic signature for completing the application. To create a FSA ID, visit fsaid.ed.gov. Remember to use our FSA ID Worksheet (also available in Spanish) to keep track of your username and password. If you’re a dependent student, a parent or guardian will also need to create a FSA ID.
  3. Fill It Out: Starting Oct. 1, you can access the new FAFSA at FAFSA.gov.
  4. Sign & Submit: Enter your FSA ID for your electronic signature. If you’re a dependent student, remember a parent will have to provide their electronic signature, as well. Don’t forget to click ‘submit’ at the bottom of the screen!
  5. Follow Up: Keep an eye out for a Student Aid Report (SAR) email, as well as information from the colleges you applied to. Sometimes campuses ask for additional paperwork, so watch for possible requests. If you have any questions after receiving your financial aid offer, follow up with the financial aid office at your campus.

For more details, check out the Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps guide or watch the Finish the FAFSA in Five videos on the StartWithFAFSA website, available in both English and Spanish.

Changes to Look for on the 2022-23 FAFSA

While big changes are planned for the FAFSA later down the road, there are two changes that are already in effect that you need to know about.

Two questions on the FAFSA will no longer be used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid—the Selective Service question and the drug conviction question.

  • Do you want us to register you with the Selective Service System?
    Males ages 18-25 who complete the 2022-23 FAFSA will still see the option to register if they haven’t yet done so, but it’s no longer a requirement for males to be registered to receive federal financial aid.
  • Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid?
    This question will also appear on the 2022-23 FAFSA, but a previous drug conviction will no longer disqualify a student from receiving federal financial aid.

Once a FAFSA is processed, the Department of Education may still place comments on the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) of a prospective student regarding these questions, alerting a financial aid office they must take steps to resolve either issue before the student can be eligible for federal financial aid. But as of June 7, 2021, financial aid personnel have been instructed to ignore the comments that would deny eligibility based on the answers to these two questions.

Students who’ve already been denied federal financial aid for the 2021-22 academic year for reasons related to the Selective Service and/or drug conviction questions will receive an email from the U.S. Department of Education or Federal Student Aid (FSA) informing them of the recent changes and advising them they may now be eligible to receive federal aid for the academic year beginning this fall. Affected students should contact the financial aid office at their institution(s) of interest to ask for a review of their eligibility requirements.

Don’t forget to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1!