Students should collaborate with parents for financial aid applications

As the deadline for filing financial aid applications approaches, University financial aid officials suggest students take responsibility in the process.

“Students are the ones who are getting the awards,” said Daniel Mann, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid. “Student loans are the responsibility of the student to pay back.”

All students who wish to receive certain types of financial aid must fill out the Free Application for Financial Student Aid, or the FAFSA, by March 15. Filing the FAFSA after this time may jeopardize the amount of aid awarded, said Victor Martinez, associate director of the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Cheriz Kunkel, senior in LAS, said she had her parents help her fill out the FAFSA for her first two years at the University so she could correctly input their income information. She has since taken on the responsibility herself.

“I wanted to understand how it worked. I wanted to understand why I received certain grants and loans and things like that,” Kunkel said.

Kunkel said filing the FAFSA is not a difficult process for students.

“I thought it was pretty straightforward,” she said. “It’s not really what you’d call simple, but as long as you follow directions, it’s not that hard.”

Mann said filling out the FAFSA takes about 25 minutes once a student retrieves all the necessary pieces of information to complete the form. He added students can consult the office’s Web site or fafsa.ed.gov for general information about the FAFSA process.

Martinez also said students should be involved with the process and should collaborate with their parents in locating certain documents.

“The student should be involved in this because they are interested in getting the funding to cover their education,” Martinez said. “It depends on the family, but I suggest that both the students and the parents fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible.”

Mann said there are benefits to applying for financial aid during all years of college, even if a student has not been awarded a satisfactory amount of money in the past. All students are eligible for federal student loans, which have benefits such as lower interest rates. Students do not have to start repaying the loans until after they finish school, he added.

“We would strongly encourage students, if they are going to borrow money from the school, to use the federal loan programs because they have the best available options for students,” Mann said.