Express option and virtual desk assists students with financial aid process

Posted on 29 September 2016 by Ian Schrauth

FAFSA deadline moved to Oct. 1

 

financial-aidBy: Sam Roy
Asst. News Editor

 

“We’ve gone through a major transformation in our office that we’re extremely proud [of],” Financial Aid Counselor Arika Biney said.

The Financial Aid Office has taken strides to adapt to new federal policies, and to students’ needs.

“We have started financial aid workshops, we have newsletters, calendars, we have conducted surveys to kind of get some feedback from our students,” Biney said.

To help with the large amount of foot traffic at the beginning of the year, the office added a virtual desk — a counselor with a tab- let who addresses students that are waiting in line, while others are assisted in the office. This lets students come in and out easily if they just need to drop off their – finalized paperwork.

“We’ve created an express option, so students don’t have to wait if they don’t have to, if they’re just dropping off paperwork, we can check if that’s all the paper- work they need,” Biney said.

STLCC-Meramec has introduced a new beginning registration date for the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can now submit the FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, rather than Jan. 1.

“Oct. 1 is the goal to open up early FAFSA,” Biney said.

This isn’t the deadline, but it’s best to get the form in early be- cause some aid awards are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

“That timeline when the FAF- SA opens or when people le their taxes is a hurdle sometimes they can’t get over,” Biney said.

The FAFSA can be extremely inconvenient, especially at the beginning of the new year. Most people do not receive their tax in- formation and W-2s until mid February or early March, which makes it difficult to le taxes earlier on.

“I can’t think of any disadvantage for moving it up, I’m just happy that they did,” Biney said.

The new opening date only helps students in need, since it al- lows them more time to have their financial aid in order. There are no foreseeable setbacks to allowing students more time to le their aid.

“We have more time to reach our students so that they can meet that priority date so they don’t have to set up payment plans, pay out of pocket, or be an inconvenience in any ways like that,” Biney said.

Biney said the financial aid office can use 2015 tax information for the 2017-18 aid years.

The FAFSA requires the student’s financial information re- ported on their federal tax return. Now, students can base their answers on their return from the previous year.

They will be able to use their 2015 federal tax returns this year, and they won’t have to go back and update their form next spring when they le taxes again.

“A lot of people do not know we do those things, that we really take interest in wanting to help our students no matter what the goal may be,” Biney said. “As long as we know that goal we’re able to help in anyway we can.”

 

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