Financial aid application crucial to college funding

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 16, 2012

For college-bound seniors, a simple application may hold the keys to their future – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“Each student hoping for any type of federal financial aid must complete the FAFSA online,” said LBWCC marketing director Renee LeMaire. “For the next academic year, (students should) be prepared to use 2011 income tax returns.”

Students are required to file the form annually for as long as they are enrolled in school.

The FAFSA is required for Pell grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work study and more.

Once they file, each family is assigned a “magic number” called the EFC or “expected family contribution.” What a family can contribute will determine how much aide they can receive.

For example, if a family’s EFC exceeds $4,995, they are no longer eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, which is free money that comes from the federal government.

LeMaire said the federal government started accepting applications for the 2012-13 academic year in January.

“We urge those applying to submit their applications as soon as possible to allow for adequate processing time,” she said. “LBWCC’s target date is March 1, but we will continue accepting them as they come in.”

LeMaire said sometimes students’ applications are forwarded to LBWCC’s financial aid department for verification, which can delay the processing time.

“The sooner students apply, the better their chances of everything being in order to begin classes in the fall,” she said.

For students choosing to attend LBWCC, they should include the federal student code for the institution, which is 008988. For other codes, contact the institution of your choice or check on the website.

Additionally, LeMaire said the community college also can assist veterans, who are signing up for aid.

“LBWCC gladly assists veterans, and they should contact their primary campus of attendance to speak with the federal aid director,” she said.

LBWCC will have representatives available at a workshop held at Opp High School on Feb. 21, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.