Early FAFSA applications opened early for 2017-2018 aid year on October 1, 2016 which has had a positive impact on the applications received.
Based on information provided by Jaime Quiroz, Financial Aid Assistant Director, there has been 1,202 FAFSAS received this year by priority deadline April 30, 2017.
The early FAFSA allowed students to apply early and have more awareness.
Applying between Oct. and March 2 is ideal due to the Cal Grant deadline which increases the chance of getting more funding.
The priority deadline to submit all files is April 30, which will guarantees receiving the financial aid by the first day of school (Fall semester).
“We encourage them to do it by April 30, that gives us the summer to finish their files and that way everything’s in place for them to have the money first day of school”, said Quiroz.
Students can continue to submit their FAFSA throughout, but the more they wait the longer it takes to receive the aid.
There are some limits when it comes to receiving financial aid that students should be aware of, for FAFSA once you reach 60 units an Educational Plan is needed and only money for the classes that are required to transfer or complete the AA will be provided.
As for the Pel Grant there is a six-year limit which is a federal requirement which means it is only received for six years.
Quiroz states, “we really want to warn them that they need to save some if they transfer, at least two years for the University”.
According to records provided by Quiroz, as of May 1, 2017 there has been a decline in FAFSAS submissions from 2014 to 2018 which is due to a decline in enrollment at Cerritos College.
Nevertheless, there where 1,202 more FAFSAS received by April 30 for 2017-2018 (21,039 FAFSAS) than 2016-2017 (19,837 FAFSAS)
Quiroz work closely with undocumented students which experienced fear of applying for financial aid due to Donald Trump’s administration.
Quiroz shared, “They’re fearful of their families being impacted, deportation is a worry and giving out their sensitive information”.
That did not stop Dreamers from applying, as of May 1, 2017 there was an increase of 76 more Dream Act Applications from last year.
All dreamers are encouraged to fill the Dream Act application and the Cerritos Financial Aid keeps all information confidential.
An AB 540 taskforce was created to discuss the challenges and help undocumented students, “We want to train more faculty and staff across campus about what these students are going through, what their struggles are and how we can help them to be successful here at Cerritos and create a more welcoming environment”, said Quiroz.
Overall, there has been an improvement with students reaching out to Financial Aid and applying due to the early FAFSA application that was provided Oct 1.
Also, Cerritos College has had more outreach in campus with more awareness fairs as well as outside of campus reaching out to high school students who will be attending college.