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FAFSA help available for students

Jamarcus Corks, financial aid specialist, sets up a computer to help students fill out their FASFA in the Galloway Business Building, Oct. 22. UP photo by Noah Dawlearn
Jamarcus Corks, financial aid specialist, sets up a computer to help students fill out their FASFA in the Galloway Business Building, Oct. 22. UP photo by Noah Dawlearn

Lamar University’s office of scholarships and financial aid will hold workshops to help students fill out their FAFSA each Tuesday in the College of Business, and Thursdays in 124 Setzer Student Center.

“The FAFSA for the upcoming financial 2020-2021 aid year became available on Oct. 1,” Brenda McKay, assistant director for financial aid for customer service, said. “The priority deadline to have that completed and turned in with all the verification is Feb. 1. It is very important that students get that turned in quickly.”

Getting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filled out before the priority deadline helps students because considerations for scholarships or other grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, McKay said.

“You are awarded your financial aid, that is a given,” she said. “As long as you have it turned in between Oct. 1 and Feb. 1, you could still be eligible for additional grant money and scholarships. But if there is any additional funding, how it is awarded is determined by when you turn your FAFSA in.”

Counselors will be available to help students with any questions they have about FAFSA.

“Our motto is, ‘One student at a time,’ and we, as a department, felt like we were not doing enough to be there,” Lexi Pyle, senior administrative assistant for financial aid, said. “As a whole, we decided financial aid needed a better reputation, and we wanted to do more to help students. Our goal is to do as much as we can. This was the first step in that.”

Students who attend will begin their FAFSA in the presence of counselors who will answer any questions the students may have.

“You may not have all the information you need, but the cool thing about the application is that you can pause it,” Pyle said. “We just help you get started and help you with the questions that you would typically get stuck on.”

The events have multiple dates, so that students can fit them into their schedule, Pyle said.

“Our job is to make it available to students,” she said. “Students go through enough stress as it is, so giving them more time to fill out the application, and multiple locations to attend, helps make it visible.”

Pyle said that students with special circumstances that may make filling out their FAFSA harder should also attend.

“There are special circumstances, such as dependency status, and if a student shows up to one of these locations with one, they can always be redirected to this office and one of the directors will help,” she said.

Pyle said that the response has been great, and that because of these workshops students are ahead of the game concerning their financial aid.

“With the hustle and bustle of school, and how busy things get, it is good not to put this on the back burner,” Pyle said. “It also benefits you more if you get it done quicker, because you have a better chance at getting scholarships and grant money. Also, you do not want to put it off for so long that August comes and you do not get financial aid, and you are having to get emergency loans because you completely forgot about it.”

The FAFSA workshops are the first of their kind at Lamar, Jamarcus Corks, financial aid specialist, said.

“If this was around when I was a student, I would have gotten things done a lot earlier than I did,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for students to come in and get things done a little earlier and a little quicker. I know what it is like to be an undergrad student. I know it can be scary, but do not be scared. We are here to make it simple, so come see us.”

The office of scholarships and financial aid has also reached out to local high schools to help students and parents with the FAFSA process.

“We went out to West Brook,” McKay said. “I believe we had somewhere between 40-60 students that we assisted. We also have events scheduled with Nederland, Lumberton and Kountze. We had an event at West Orange that went really well. We had about 50 students. We are really reaching out more than we had in the past.”

McKay said the office is trying to make itself more helpful and provide good customer service.

“It was our goal to reach out and make thing easier for the students,” she said. “We are eager to help anyone that has questions, and we want them to allow us to help them fill out their FAFSA.

“Sometimes the financial aid process can be intimidating, and we are here to assist and make it easier. If you have any questions, please contact us and we will do our best to resolve that situation, or we will find someone who can.”

For more information, call 880-1765.

Category: News