As 2021 begins, prospective college students need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) soon to be considered for federal student aid for the 2021–2022 academic year. The filing deadline is June 30.
Though there is still time, colleges and financial aid advisors recommend submitting it earlier rather than later. Susan Young, director of Financial Aid at BJU, said, “Doing the FAFSA as early as possible after the application opens on October 1 allows a new student to know during the admission process what their aid will be for the upcoming academic year.”
See Also: BJU’s Financial Aid Process
Completing the FAFSA early in the admission process benefits both the student and parents. It allows them to understand what aid the student is eligible for and the family’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). If the student is eligible for the South Carolina Tuition Grant, the deadline for filling out the FAFSA is also June 30. Several need-based scholarships also require the EFC to determine eligibility.
Filling out the FAFSA earlier rather than later can also help undecided students. Once a student completes the FAFSA, they will receive a copy of their Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the information the student provided on the questionnaire. The student’s SAR is sent to the universities and colleges the student listed on their FAFSA. The schools then use the SAR to prepare a financial aid package for the prospective student. If a student is considering multiple schools, it is helpful to receive the aid packages from each school earlier rather than later if finances are a deciding factor.
For more information visit the FAFSA website.
Changes Coming to the FAFSA
When President Trump recently signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, changes were made to the federal financial aid form that will go into effect on October 1, 2022.
One of the major changes to the FAFSA is the replacement of the EFC with the term “Student Aid Index.” The change comes from the recognition that the EFC number is not a true reflection of a family’s expected contribution to college expenses but an indication of eligibility for student aid.
Additionally, the FAFSA form was reduced from 108 questions to 36 questions. The Pell Grant form expanded by changing the eligibility requirements for the minimum and maximum rewards to help low-income students. The Pell Grant also changed its eligibility rules to allow incarcerated students to qualify for the grant.
Help in Every Step
At BJU, the financial aid team works to ensure that every student has the support and information they need yearly through each step of the process. As soon as the Financial Aid department receives a copy of the student’s SAR, they will check if verification is needed. Upon clearance, BJU will look at the student’s SAR to see what aid they are eligible for.
See Also: BJU Freezes Tuition for 2021-2022
The first type is federal student aid. The U.S. Department of Education provides funds to students depending on their financial need. The Pell Grant, which does not need to be repaid, is the most common type of federal aid.
If the student is a South Carolina resident, BJU will also check to see if they are eligible for state aid. The Palmetto Fellows, LIFE and HOPE scholarships are different types of aid provided by the state based on the student’s academic merit. South Carolina students may also be eligible for the South Carolina Tuition Grant, which is based on financial need. Palmetto Fellows scholarship recipients pay $0 in tuition.
The Financial Aid team will also check if the student qualifies for a BJU scholarship based on the student’s ACT, SAT or CLT score (scholarship up to $10,000), if one or both parents graduated from the University (up to $2,000), if one parent is in full-time ministry ($2,000) and need-based. A financial aid package is then sent to the student with a breakdown of costs, fees and expected financial aid.
“Financial Aid can be a very complex process, so doing the FAFSA early allows the financial aid office to provide assistance all along the way,” Young said.
See Also: BJUtoday’s Financial Aid Articles
Don’t Wait to File the FAFSA
Filling out the FAFSA is the first step to pursuing higher education. It does not take long to complete — the average student takes half an hour to fill out and submit the form.
BJU sophomore Karis McGuire files the FAFSA as soon as the application opens. “The FAFSA funds are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Even though most likely things would turn out fine if I did it later, I can’t afford to wait,” she said.