The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Get the most out of FAFSA

March 2, the priority deadline for free application for federal student aid or FAFSA, is fast approaching. Times are tough. Money is short. There are too many expenses. These are phrases heard too often lately, but there is hope for CSUN students.

Although CSUN Financial Aid Services experienced a 10 percent increase in aid application, there was a 12 percent increase in awards this year alone, said Lili Vidal, director of financial aid.’

In award year 2008-09, more than 21,000 students were granted aid, said Vidal.’ Financial aid expects an even higher number of applicants for 2009-10 due to recession.

The bad economy and job losses for students or their parents will contribute to the increase in applications, said Vidal.

It will be the first year applying for aid for Joshua Rosenberg, 24, CTVA/multimedia major.’ ‘My parents help me out, but this year I’ll have to apply.’

To process the increased number of requests, financial aid is looking to streamline their processes, said Vidal. ‘We’re continually upgrading our technology and ability to handle more and more applicants and we’re looking at different ways of awarding,’ said Vidal.

Through upgrades, the hope is to save time and be more effective. ‘A lot of what we do, we have to do manually and the system takes a while to catch-up,’ said Vidal.’

Her advice to students is to apply for FAFSA on time before the priority deadline, answer correctly and immediately return any additional documents the financial aid office may request. ‘They can apply after the deadline, but the grants are committed after that point,’ said Vidal.’ ‘

Yomara Barrios, 23, liberal arts major said she finds the application process very straightforward.’ ‘It’s pretty easy. You just need your parents tax forms and yours and just plug-in the numbers.’

In addition to grants, money that does not have to be returned, there are also loans and a few different scholarships available. Federal Work-Study program may be another option for qualified students.’

For scholarships, generally there is a 3.0 or higher GPA requirement though there may be a few that do not have that requirement. ‘Students just need to do their very best in academic work,’ said Vidal.

If students are having any problems paying for their classes, need support or budget advice, Vidal encourages them to visit the financial aid office on the first floor of Bayramian Hall and see if they can help. ‘That’s what we’re here for. They can always come in and talk to us,’ said Vidal. ‘Any student, who’s eligible to apply, will get some awards.’ The general formula for determining aid is by subtracting family contributions from college costs.

Last year Kenneth Arlington Jr., 28, film/screen writing major, said he did not attend school because he did not receive any financial aid. This year he received a small amount. ‘They’ve cut my financial aid. I get like $300 and loans pay the rest.’ Arlington is a senior and won’t be applying for aid for the upcoming year. He said, ‘I’m pretty much done so I haven’t asked.’

After graduation, students are expected to begin repayment of loans. Vidal said, students often think work-study and loans don’t constitute aid, but they do.

If any changes occur after applying, students can go in and ask for an income appeal and financial aid will have a relook at their application, said Vidal. ‘If it’s in the same academic year and they’re still enrolled, we can go back and look at it.’

There is a FAFSA workshop held today 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Jacaranda Hall, room 3516.

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