Filling out the FAFSA is a requirement for students who want to receive student loans, grants, participate in the work-study program or receive TOPS. Ninety-four percent of beginning full-time students at Northwestern State received some type of financial aid last year.
According to Assistant Director for Verification Lauren Jackson, starting the process as early as possible can be very helpful.
“If you get started early, it gives you plenty of time to gather necessary documentation and get answers to any questions you may have,” said Jackson. “By waiting you risk having to scramble at the last moment and perhaps not making deadlines.”
Northwestern State’s priority deadline for financial aid is May 1.
There are several things Jackson said students and their parents should do in filling out the FAFSA to prevent problems.
“The biggest thing is to not leave anything blank,” she said. “Even though you are allowed to skip certain items, it’s best not to do that because each item on the form has a purpose. Another item that causes problems involves the number of people in a household. This should be the number of people the parents support.”
This year, Northwestern State is encouraging students and parents to use the IRS data retrieval process. Jackson said this process allows tax filers to load their data into the FAFSA.
“There is no requirement to do this, but it can save students and their parents a lot of time,” said Jackson. “If a student is chosen for verification, we can no longer accept a copy of a tax return if they do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Process. The tax return will need to be a return transcript that comes from the IRS. By using the IRS Data Retrieval Process, we can quickly get needed information.”
Jackson encouraged students or prospective students with questions to go to the Financial Aid Office’s website at financialaid.nsula.edu. The site has a great deal of information that will help parents and students as they fill out the FAFSA. For further information, contact the Financial Aid Office at (318) 357-5961 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is located in Roy Hall, Room 103.