Financial aid help: January and February of senior year

January marks the beginning of the Financial Aid Season. Beginning January 1, you are able to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the application for all federal need-based financial aid programs. In Ohio, and many other states, it is the application for state need-based financial aid as well. At Muskingum, and many other colleges and universities, it is also the application for our own need-based financial aid.

The FAFSA is truly the key to the entire financial aid process. On the FAFSA you will need to provide student (and parent) demographic and financial information. This information will then be sent to the colleges and universities you select so that they may determine your eligibility for federal, state and their own financial aid. Muskingum would like you to file the FAFSA by March 1 so that we can provide you with a financial aid award before our decision date of May 1. Check with other schools to find what their recommended filing date.

Several of the questions on the FAFSA will be about your 2010 income. Having your federal income taxes completed makes it easier to answer these questions. However, you are able to use estimated tax information if you can’t complete your taxes before the recommended FAFSA filing date. You will also be asked questions about untaxed income and benefits as well as cash, savings, checking, investments and the value of a farm or business you may have.

We recommend filing the FAFSA online since it is secure, faster, will catch more errors, and has helpful hints for answering the questions. You will want to complete the 2011-12 FAFSA if you are entering college in the fall of 2011.

If you are unable to complete the FAFSA, you can save it and come back later. If you prefer filing the paper FAFSA you can print a PDF FAFSA at http://www.fafsa.gov by clicking on FAFSA Filing Options, or have one mailed to you by calling 800.433.3243.

A few days to a few weeks after filing the FAFSA you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) by mail or e-mail. Review your SAR for errors. You can also update your school codes and update tax information if you originally estimated and have now completed your taxes. By this time the schools you listed on your FAFSA will have received your information and will be working to put together a financial aid award for you. This does take some time, as we are careful to make sure we are checking your eligibility for all possible types of financial aid. While you are waiting on a financial aid award you can visit the following websites to learn more about the types of available financial aid:
Federal Financial Aid
State Financial Aid (in Ohio)
– Muskingum Grants and Scholarships

The FAFSA is based on your income from 2010. If you will be experiencing a loss of income in 2011 (due to reduction in hours, loss of child support, or unemployment compensation, for example) you may need to complete a Special Circumstance Form. You can also inform our office of other expenses you may have including unusually high out-of-pocket medical expenses, private school tuition for siblings, college tuition for a parent, or student loan payments. Although not included in this form, please let our office know if there is ever a change in marital status such as divorce, separation or death of a parent.

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