All posts by UCanGo2

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.

Tell me what I need to know about the SAR.

What’s a SAR?

Your Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent to you either by mail or email within two weeks after submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you provided an email address on your FAFSA, you’ll receive instructions on how to access your SAR online. If there’s not a working email address available, a signature is missing or your Social Security Number doesn’t match your record at the Social Security Administration, you’ll receive either a SAR or a SAR Acknowledgement through the mail. All students with an FSA ID can view or print their SARs after logging in at FAFSA.gov.

What do I need to do after I receive my SAR?

Read the first page carefully. If you need to supply more information to your financial aid office, it will give you further instructions.

  1. Look for the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on the first page in the upper right corner. Your financial aid office needs the EFC to determine how much aid you may be able to receive.
  2. Review the entire SAR for mistakes. If you find anything that needs to be corrected, log in to your FAFSA at FAFSA.gov. You can mail a paper copy of the SAR showing your corrections, but this is where an online FAFSA can really pay off; making corrections through the mail can take weeks!
  3. Find the Data Release Number (DRN). It will be listed below the EFC. You’ll need the DRN if you choose to allow your college to change certain information on your FAFSA. Speak to someone your school’s Financial Aid office if there will be a significant change in your income or your parents’ income during the current year.
  4. The data from your SAR will also be sent to each college that you listed in the School Code section of your FAFSA. If you’re in a time crunch, you can call the financial aid office at your school of choice to verify that they’ve received your information.

Don’t ignore your SAR! It’s an important document that will keep you informed throughout the financial aid process.

FAFSA and the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

If you’re working on your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application and plan to use the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to download your 2015 income tax figures, you may be out of luck. Currently this option, known as the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), is unavailable. The IRS and the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that the federal government purposefully shut off the IRS DRT amid security concerns and stated that “the online data tool will be unavailable for several weeks.”

If you’re not familiar with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, it allows students and parents completing the FAFSA to link directly to the IRS and electronically download tax figures into the FAFSA from their tax return. This process allows families a much faster and easier way to enter this information on their financial aid application.

You shouldn’t wait to complete your FAFSA because of the IRS glitch. Instead, you can manually enter your tax information directly into the FAFSA and submit it for processing. You aren’t too late to apply for financial aid if you’re just now completing the FAFSA, but remember that sending it in as soon after the annual start date of Oct. 1 is the best option.

It’s important to note that, at this time, the IRS has not suggested that the Data Retrieval Tool has been attacked or that their systems have been affected. Please follow StartWithFAFSA.org for updates to this current issue with the IRS DRT. We’ll post as soon as the problem has been resolved.

Presidents’ Day Quiz!

Happy Presidents Day! We’re thankful for so many of our nation’s leaders who have made it a priority to see that any student can attain higher education as a part of their pathway to success. Try this fun quiz to see how much you know about the history of U.S. Presidents and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

1. Who signed the Higher Education Act of 1965, which authorized most of the federal student financial aid programs?

a. John F. Kennedy
b. Richard Nixon
c. Lyndon B. Johnson
d. Abraham Lincoln

2. Who was president when the first Financial Aid Form (FAF) was
introduced in 1976?

a. Gerald Ford
b. Dwight D. Eisenhower
c. Franklin D. Roosevelt
d. Ronald Reagan

3. Which president was in office when the Higher Education Amendments of 1992 added the FAFSA to the financial aid process and required it to be free?

a. Barack Obama
b. Bill Clinton
c. Jimmy Carter
d. George H.W. Bush

4. FAFSA on the Web (fafsa.gov) was launched in 1997, during the presidency of:

a. George W. Bush
b. Bill Clinton
c. John Adams
d. Barack Obama

Answers:

Understanding Your Award Letter

Once you’ve been accepted to a college, university or career technology center, and you’ve completed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you will receive a financial aid award letter. This letter is very important. It will notify you of the types of federal and state assistance you can receive to pay for college.

Most financial aid award letters are sent to you electronically, but a few schools may provide paper documents. Be sure you know the system your school uses so you don’t miss out on any deadlines. Award letters will state the amount of financial aid you can receive, but you will be required to accept or decline this money and notify your school by a specific date. If you miss the deadline, you may be missing out on money for college!

You don’t have to accept everything listed to you in the award letter. Research the aid programs that you’re being offered and make an educated decision. Remember: grants and scholarships are typically considered free money, work-study offers you the chance to work for your funds and student loans must be paid back in full with interest. If you have accumulated several scholarships and don’t need loan money, then don’t accept it! Loan funds that are declined will most likely still be available if you learn you need additional money later in the school year.

If you have questions about the aid you’re awarded, please contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. To learn more about financial aid programs, visit UCanGo2.org or StudentAid.ed.gov.

What’s Federal Work-Study?

If you don’t already plan to work while attending college, you should be aware that there are some real advantages to it. It can help pay for college without adding to your future student debt and help you build your resume.

When you fill out the FAFSA, you may find that you qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. Work-Study provides part-time jobs for eligible students on a college campus or in an approved nonprofit organization or public agency. The program encourages community service work and employment related to the student’s course of study. Students work a specified number of hours each week and typically earn minimum wage. When assigning work hours, your employer or your school’s financial aid office will consider your class schedule and your academic progress. You will be paid directly unless you request that the school use the money to pay for your outstanding education-related institutional expenses such as tuition, fees and room and board.

Whether through Work-Study or not, having a job while attending college will give you a head start in job hunting after you graduate. Most entry-level jobs will give you skills that employers are looking for, like customer service, money handling and organization. If you can find a job or workplace related to the career field you’re planning on, all the better. You’ll also meet people that you can list as references for future job applications.

Completing the 2017-18 FAFSA

If you’re completing a FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year, there are some new requirements you should be aware of. One of them is the new FAFSA release date. This form now becomes available on October 1 annually, rather than January 1. This allows you to fill out the FAFSA earlier and possibly learn your financial aid eligibility a little earlier, too.

Another change to the FAFSA allows students and families to complete this form using tax information that should already be completed, eliminating the need to update your tax information on your application once your taxes have been filed. Since the latest FAFSA, released on October 1, requires you to use your 2015 tax information, you can pull out your 2015 return and complete your application at FAFSA.gov now! The sooner you apply, the better!

If you’re unsure when to complete the FAFSA or the correct tax information to be used, check out the chart below. Good luck!

Chart detailing when to submit which FAFSA and what tax year information to use. Visit  https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/resources/2017-18-fafsa-process-changes-text for accessible version.