The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at UC Santa Barbara is once again offering its online tutorial to assist current and prospective students in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used by nearly all colleges and universities to determine a student’s eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.
Produced by the financial aid office at UCSB, “7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA: A Student’s Guide to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid” is designed to help prospective students complete the 2011-12 FAFSA in seven clear and easy-to-understand steps. It can be found at www.finaid.sa.ucsb.edu/FAFSASimplification/index.html.
The deadline for submitting a 2011-12 FAFSA for UCSB financial aid is March 2, 2011.
“A recent study showed that more than 8.7 million students did not apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” said Mike Miller, director of the UCSB Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. “Studies also tell us that approximately 41 percent of those students did not complete the FAFSA because they either did not know about it or they thought it was too complicated.
“The unfortunate thing is that many of those students would have been eligible for aid had they applied, and many of them are first-generation college students and they are the demographic student aid programs are designed to help. The tutorial is designed to help students and parents with the FAFSA application process,” Miller said.
To determine the kind and amount of financial aid for which a student is eligible, the U.S. Department of Education conducts a “need analysis” using the financial information included on the FAFSA. The analysis considers factors, such as income, assets, and other household information, which the student and his or her parents are asked to provide. The completed form is then submitted to a federal processor contracted by the Department of Education, and results are electronically transmitted to the financial aid offices of the schools listed on the student’s application.
The form is also required for participation in UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers systemwide fees for California residents whose families earn less than $80,000, and who qualify for financial aid.
Even students who don’t qualify for need-based financial aid must complete a FAFSA in order to be considered for most federal student loans. Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, including low-interest Federal Stafford and/or parent PLUS loans, regardless of income or circumstances.