Students eligible for more financial aid if they file FAFSA by April 1

Amye Buckley

Now is the season for students to file for state and federal aid.

A countdown timer has been installed on the school Web site and Kathy Feith, assistant director of Financial Aid, says there are funds available for students if they meet the priority deadline of April 1.

“Our goal is for students to have their aid ready so that they get the most money that they can,” Feith said.

Moving the deadline up to match others across the state gives Southern students access to priority based funding for the Access Missouri Plan. Last year, only 1034 students qualified because of the state deadline, but most Southern students meet the other requirements, Feith said.

“The majority of our students would qualify for this,” she said. “They have to file their FAFSA by April 1, they have to be a Missouri resident, full-time student and have a GPA of 2.5 or above.”

Loan eligible students and any student who reaches an estimated family contribution of $12,000 or below on their FAFSA are eligible.

“What we find is that our current students will wait until July and August to file. Between July and September of last year we had over 2200 FAFSAs received from our current students so you’re looking at a huge population of our students that they don’t apply early,” Feith said.

Students registering for the summer and fall semesters will need to be paid-in-full or face losing their classes. Early enrollment for the fall semester begins April 11 with open enrollment getting underway on April 28.

“It is a lot less complicated than last year,” said Alicia Hughes, student account manager. “For fall, anybody that enrolls on any of those dates nothing is due until Aug. 7.”

The number of drop dates has been cut to two. Full tuition and fees for the fall semester are due Aug. 7 and Aug. 29. For summer, the dates are May 22 and June 12.

Students who miss the priority deadline can still file, but may not have their aid processed by the fall payment deadlines. Aid will be processed as the applications are received and once processed, aid packages can be viewed on LioNet.

Feith urges students to apply early to maximize their eligibility.

“Whenever you go to make a major purchase you think about it, you think about all the details, make, model when you go to look for a car. Education should be no different,” she said. “You need to be thinking, ‘what I can afford to take and work it out in a good sequence so that you are a prepared consumer.”

In addition to tuition, charges like books and class fees will automatically show on the LioNet account and students will still have to watch their balances.

“Just be proactive again,” Hughes said. “If you don’t think your financial aid is going to be ready, if you think that you’re not going to be able to pay the lump sum up front. sign up for Tuition Pay as soon as possible.”