Don't neglect FAFSA; financial aid critical to students

So, as we delve deeper into the semester, I would like to take this week to remind everyone to fill out all of their financial aid documents for the next semester. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid worksheet has been given a makeover, making it more convenient and user friendly. No matter how much your parents make or what you think you know about the financial aid that you will be given, it is always a good idea to fill out a FAFSA form. You don’t get charged for filling out the application. If you are bogged down with exams, presentations and the works, kindly ask mom or dad to fill it out for you. Spending a few hours to fill out the FAFSA would be a wise investment. Also, if you participated in co-op or took a semester off for a full time job you must file a tax return. This may affect numbers on your FAFSA.

Another problem that has been appearing in the area of financial aid is the changing of loaning banks. In other words, because of the recession and the complications that it involves, some banks have stopped loaning money. Specifically, Bank of America has decided to cut its private student loans program. Currently for public loans, this revelation really isn’t an extreme issue as long as you remember to sign a new promissory note with another bank. Bank of America’s cutbacks are evidences to a future filled with economic uncertainty. If this trend continues, coupled with raises in tuition, student unrest will intensify. A large portion of the students that attend private universities like Rensselaer depend on loans to help cover at least a portion of the overall fees that are not covered by financial aid.

Remember that it is unwise to wait until the last minute in order to fill out your FAFSA. With funds becoming increasingly difficult to secure, early preparations are always recommended. Always be sure to ask for assistance if you are unsure about a particular issue or area. I think that our Financial Aid Office does an excellent job in helping students. Despite the underhanded tactics that were used by the “powers that be” at Rensselaer during the past few months, we can all recognize that these times are growing increasingly difficult to deal with. Decisions will be made that will cause controversy and anger. As a student, always staying informed and updated with information is a very important task.