The March 3 FAFSA application deadline is quickly approaching, but instead of combing through a thorough questionnaire gauging one’s ability to pay tuition, students can breeze through it online now.
CSUN Financial Aid Director Lili Vidal said providing the application online is an effort to make the application process go smoother for students.
“If students apply online, they will make less mistakes, but they also need to make sure they have their PIN numbers, as well as their parents’ PIN numbers,” said Vidal.
With a PIN number, students can view their application and make corrections any time, but it is up to students to double-check the information on their application before submitting it.
“Students sometimes put the wrong Social Security number, wrong birthday, and it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes students put too many zeros on their application, making a 10,000 into a 100,000,” Vidal said.
Vidal encourages students to log into their FAFSA account regularly and not just assume that a financial aid check will come in the mail.
Russell Tom, a 21-year-old cinema and television arts major, said he doesn’t bother applying for financial aid. “After trying and applying a couple times and getting rejected, I just gave up,” he said.
Tom said he depends on scholarships and his parents to pay for his tuition, books and housing fees. He also added that he doesn’t agree with the way that some students use their financial aid money.
“I know people who have gotten financial aid money and they don’t use it to its fullest. They use it on things that aren’t even school-related,” said Tom. “There needs to be someone who keeps track of where the money is going.”
Vidal said it is difficult to address the issues of individual students because every case is different. She encourages students to make an appointment at the financial aid office, so they can meet one-on-one with a financial aid advisor.
Robin Alfaro, a 20-year-old English major, said when she first submitted her FAFSA, she was denied financial aid, but it was by following up on her application that she was able to correct her application and receive financial aid.
“The first time I applied I was pointed in the direction of loans. My parents would have to kill themselves working to pay off my school fees. But, when I talked to a financial aid advisor, she showed me the errors on my application,” said Alfaro.
Vidal encourages students to apply for FAFSA because they gain access to loans with set rates that make it easier on students and parents to pay off.
“We don’t encourage students to apply for private educational student loans because the rates always vary from lender to lender,” said Vidal.
Vidal said taking out loans can be a scary experience for a lot of students. She said it is better for a student to take out a loan than get a job that can jeopardize their academic performance.
“You’re always afraid to put down something that will make you receive less money, but you also know you’re not supposed to lie,” Alfaro said.
Vidal is inviting students to Matador Dollar Days on Feb. 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Students will have access to information on other forms of getting money for college. “There will be a lot of different booths, like a fair with a lot of information, plus you get a free lunch,” she said.