College-bound students looking for federal and state financial aid to attend school this fall should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible, according to the Oklahoma Guaranteed Student Loan Program (OGSLP).
“Many financial aid programs are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Classes may not begin until fall, but the distribution of money to pay for college starts much earlier,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson.
Billions of dollars in financial aid, including federal and state grants and federal student loans, are available for those who complete the FAFSA. The quickest and easiest way to complete the application is online at www.fafsa.gov. Students and parents can apply for a personal identification number (PIN), which allows required signatures to be made electronically.
“Students should complete the FAFSA even if they think they won’t qualify for financial aid,” said Rick Edington, OGSLP interim executive director. “Many students underestimate their financial need or don’t realize they may qualify for federal work-study or other helpful programs.”
The U.S. Department of Education estimates the form will take less than an hour to complete if all necessary paperwork, including tax records, bank statements and Social Security cards, is in hand when the application is initiated. In addition, significant changes were recently made to the application to make it easier for families to understand and complete, including updated logic for the online FAFSA, which eliminates questions not relevant to the applicant, based on previous answers.
For help during the process and to ensure campus-specific deadlines are met, students can contact their financial aid office. The FAFSA is free, so students should be cautious if an organization charges a fee to complete the application.
In an effort to promote early awareness to students on campuses and in area high schools, Gov. Brad Henry proclaimed February as Financial Aid Awareness Month. In celebration, OGSLP is offering free publications and assisting campuses across the state in hosting events to educate families about the FAFSA.
To learn more about the financial aid process, request publications or find out about OGSLP-sponsored campus events, call OGSLP toll free at (800) 442-8642 or visit www.ogslp.org.
The Oklahoma Guaranteed Student Loan Program (OGSLP), a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, is a guarantor for the Federal Family Education Loan Program and serves as a source of college access, financial aid, financial literacy and student loan management information for students, parents and educators.