By Kyeland Jackson —
If you considered procrastinating financial aid applications, think again.
Applications next year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid applications jumped forward to Oct. 1, awarding federal aid months earlier than last year. Because financial aid works on a “first come, first serve” basis, students expecting need-based aid now have less time to apply. Details of the federal change were discussed during a financial aid press conference Wednesday morning.
“If a kid waits until Jan. 1 to apply for those dollars this year, there’s a good chance that all of them will be gone,” Kentucky Lottery Senior Vice President of Communications Chip Polston said.
Last year nearly $100 million in scholarships and grants were awarded to almost 50,000 Kentucky students. This year the two need-based programs affected are the College Access Program and Kentucky Tuition Grants Program, which award eligible students up to $1900 and $3000 respectively.
“The FAFSA is your ticket to CAP and KTG, as well as work study and student loans,” Erin Klarer, vice president of government relations for Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, said.
Sophomore Conrad Johnson, whose full tuition was paid by federal financial aid, described how FAFSA helped him attend college.
“Without financial aid that i received through doing FAFSA, among other things, I probably would not have been able to attend college,” Johnson said.
“It’s made it (college) affordable, it’s made me not have to worry about all of the stress of all of the debt that I would be taking otherwise. So personally I can completely attest to how helpful it’s been in achieving my goals in college.”
With dwindling state dollars appropriated to higher education, students have suffered financially. U of L approved increasing tuition rates by five percent, raising costs for students by up to $1,242 depending on residency status. That increase is offset by the Credit for Credits program, which reimburses students finishing 30 credit hours a year. University meal plan and housing rates increased as well. More budget cuts and rate increases were expected when Governor Matt Bevin announced he would cut higher education funding by two percent. But a judge overturned Bevin’s order, releasing $18 million back to universities.
For those who miss the FAFSA deadline, there are some options available. The Pell Grant, a federal financial grant, can award up to $5,815. The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship is available as well. The scholarship awards students up to $1000 based on their grade point average and ACT score upon leaving high school.
Photos by Kyeland Jackson // The Louisville Cardinal