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FAFSA written on a piece of paper next to money and a keyboard

Regardless of FAFSA Delay, First Step is Filling Out Application

Independientemente del retraso de la FAFSA, el primer paso es rellenar la solicitud

UNC and Aims partner to host FAFSA FEST event to help students complete applications for federal financial aid

Universities and colleges across the nation have been navigating Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application changes and data delays for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. Financial Aid departments are being told they won’t know who has applied and possibly how much federal aid students will receive for another three plus weeks. Aid offers from public colleges and universities are usually sent out beginning in February, which means the news on whether students most in need will be able to afford college is up in the air. 

“Once we know what the federal Pell program is going to contribute, UNC, with our state allocation of financial aid and our institutional investment, then can make our aid offers to students,” said Office of Financial Aid Director Marty Somero. “It’s a domino effect in the process.” 

Though the amount of aid is a waiting game, there is one aspect that must be done before families can receive funding – students must complete their FAFSA application. For UNC students, that deadline is June 1. So, that is what Somero is going to focus on in the meantime. 

“We need to help students get their application submitted so their part is done, and then we’ll continue to wait on the federal and state government to get their data to us so that we can do our part,” Somero said.  

In years past, UNC and Aims Community College hosted ‘College Goal Sundays’ events to support families in their efforts to complete the FAFSA application, but the pandemic brought those to a halt. Now, with the change in the application process, UNC and Aims are bringing back a similar event to provide assistance again. 

FAFSA FEST will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Aims Welcome Center (4901 West 20th Street, 3rd floor ballroom). Financial Aid leaders from both institutions will be on hand to assist with questions, help families navigate the correct forms to fill out and explain the next steps families should take. 

The change in the FAFSA application this year comes with the FAFSA Simplification Act. The overhaul that began for the 2024-25 school year, was created so that families would have fewer questions to fill out and the results would allow more students to be eligible for federal Pell grants. According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 610,000 new students from low-income backgrounds will receive Pell Grants, driven primarily by the changes to these eligibility rules. Moreover, Pell recipients will receive more aid with nearly 1.5 million more students receiving the maximum Pell Grant. 

Somero says that’s why holding an informative FAFSA event is so important, the university wants to make sure that everyone who can receive aid does.  

“This is what we want to do to help all students maximize their potential financial aid whether it be at UNC, Aims or somewhere else,” Somero said.  “For us alone though, we have a responsibility to our own students to make sure they are getting the maximum aid they are eligible for.” 

Those looking to attend need to bring their 2022 tax information, social security number and their FSA ID for the parent and student. Families can also get help with filling out the Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CAFSA).

Once applications are in, and the government sends out their data, Somero expects UNC students will start hearing updates on their financial aid in early May. 

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