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College Corner: Submitting the FAFSA

CollegeCorner1
[/media-credit] As the spring semester is now well underway, the next priority on the seniors’ to-do list is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be accessed online starting Jan. 1.

As the spring semester is now well underway, the next priority on the seniors’ to-do list is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be accessed online starting Jan. 1.

Every senior is encouraged to submit this form, even if it is believed that they will not qualify for state or federal aid. The reason behind this is that some institutions and even private scholarship organizations use the FAFSA to determine student eligibility.

Another important piece of advice is that families who have not yet filed their 2013 taxes are encouraged to go ahead and file the FAFSA and estimate their tax information from the previous year. They will have the chance to amend this information at a later date with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Another major incentive to complete the FAFSA is because of the newly adopted Middle Class Scholarship. The website states that: “Starting in the 2014-15 academic year, the Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) program would apply to undergraduate students with family incomes up to $150,000 and who attend a University of California or California State University campus.”

Many of our Fresno Christian families fall into this income bracket, which is why I feel it is important to devote an entire article to this scholarship. The purpose of this College Corner and the MCS is to provide financial help for families who struggle to pay for college, yet are above the salary ceiling to qualify them for most need based scholarships and grants.

“Middle Class Scholarships are based on a sliding scale according to your family income,” the MCS states. “Scholarship amounts may vary by student and institution. The scholarship amount is limited to no more than 40 percent of the amount of your institution’s system-wide tuition. Your award amount is determined after any other publicly funded, need-based student financial aid you may receive.”

Families who make up $100,000 per year qualify for up to a 40 percent tuition/fee discount and those that make up to $150,000 per year will receive at least a 10 percent tuition/fee discount.

The MCS will be a huge help for families who qualify, and in many cases will alleviate the need to take out student loans. This comes at a perfect time, when student loan interest rates recently doubled.

“Students at UCs and CSUs currently pay an annual tuition of $12,192 and $5,472 respectively,” the MCS site states. “This legislation will dramatically lower the college fees to $7,315 at UC’s and $3,283 at CSU?s beginning in the 2014-15 school year for families making under $100,000 a year.”

It is important to note that the MCS award amount is compared in relation to other aid the student is qualified for.

“Amounts are determined after a student is awarded any federal Pell Grant, Cal Grant and UC need-based grants for which the student is eligible,” the UC site notes. “A student will be awarded a scholarship only if these awards, taken together, do not already exceed the amount that the student is entitled to under the MCS program.”

In many cases, students qualify for grants that exceed the award amount they would be offered through the MCS.

Below are the eligibility requirements for the MCS (also found on the UC website listed above):

  • California resident or have AB 540 status
  • Not in default on a student loanĀ Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Meet income and other financial aid standards
  • File a FAFSA/California Dream Act Application and GPA verification form (This is something that I submit for FCS seniors) by March 2nd.

Please refer to last year’s article regarding the FAFSA for more specific information about the application. FC will not be hosting a FAFSA workshop this year, however students and parents are encouraged to go to the following website to find a Cash for College workshop in the area for more information about filing the FAFSA: www.calgrants.org.

Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions about financial aid, it can be a frustrating and confusing process, which is why I am here to help in anyway I can.

For more opinions, read the Jan. 15 article, Junior enjoys Utah ski resort, luxury.

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  • K

    Kiaya HargisAug 30, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I think dressing up is alot of fun! Now that we have it every week. It gives us something to look forward to during the long school week. In my opinion YOHHSO or you only have high school once so why not milk it for all its worth! Cause when your older, you can’t do that in your office or job.

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