By Rodolfo Ryan Ojeda III
Pulse Staff Reporter
College is expensive, and everyone knows that. Not everyone has the money lying around to pay for college, so getting the funds for college through financial aid and scholarships is a necessity.
Kathy Esquivel, a sophomore Nursing major at Palo Alto College, said, “You must be up to date with everything, and start your application for FAFSA as soon as possible.”
Waiting until the last minute to complete the FAFSA isn’t a good idea because an issue could arise and delay the process.
To qualify, a student must be a U.S citizen or an eligible non-citizen, have a high school diploma or GED, and create a FAFSA ID.
A huge tip for students is to review the entire application to make sure there aren’t any errors that will delay the process.
For example, when typing your information, be sure to take your time and not have any typos in your application, such as an extra letter or symbol, and double check all numbers. The financial aid deadline for the 2018 spring academic term is Nov. 1, 2017.
These deadlines are extremely important, as they are the end dates of when a student can apply for financial aid.
Shirley Leija, the associate director of Financial Aid at Palo Alto College, said, “Apply early, and meet priority date deadlines.”
The priority dates are set to ensure the review and processing of student applications before the first day of class. If the financial aid doesn’t get there in time, then the student will be dropped from his or her classes.
The process can take 2-3 weeks, so submitting an application early enough can expedite the handling of a student’s application, especially if the need for additional documents arises.
As of last year, Palo Alto College had approximately 9,000 students enrolled and 3,682 of them received the Pell Grant.
Another big mistake that students often forget or don’t even know is that the government only allows a student to six years of aid to earn a bachelor’s degree. Once a student reaches that 6-year marker, the aid is over.
One of the best ways to get scholarships is to apply through an online application via the Alamo Colleges Foundation. Submit just one application and be considered for many scholarships.
“The easiest way to get scholarships is to check locally,” said Klarissa Quesada, a sophomore Criminal Justice major at Palo Alto College.
Applying for local scholarships is the best way to obtain some free money. Local small businesses, clubs, associations and organizations offer help to keep future professionals from leaving San Antonio.
Applying for scholarships that offer lesser awards can be better than bigger awards because less people are trying for them. Most students avoid those types of scholarships with a long list of requirements, but those who try for them can sometimes get the best deal.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio Scholarships’ webpage offers the following advice when applying for outside help: “Be aware of financial scams when applying for external scholarships. Avoid scholarship organizations that charge a fee. Most legitimate scholarship search engines and applications are free and should not ask for personal information, such as Social Security number, credit card number, or banking information.”
Applying for financial aid and scholarships can be time consuming and tedious, but they are essential to every student in college. So, hit the books and the applications to get going.