Financial aid helps students afford college

Money is a problem for most people pursuing higher education due to the high-cost of textbook prices among other monetary responsibilities.  

Financial aid, however, could be the difference between getting through a semester and being able to enjoy the college experience.

Anafe Robinson, the director of the Financial Aid Office, stated that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) cycle to apply starts Oct. 1 every year.  She encourages students to apply as soon as possible.

“Financial Aid starts in October to align with admissions applications for students transferring out to a four-year university or any universities,” Robinson said.

Financial aid needs to be submitted online via the FAFSA portal website and processed through the U.S. Department of Education.

Robinson said that to be eligible for any financial aid, a student has until the last day of the semester to apply for FAFSA. If a student has applied for FAFSA before, it is recommended that they renew their application to be eligible for the upcoming semester.

“Just because a student submitted their FAFSA, doesn’t not mean that the application process is complete,” Robinson said. “Depending on the outcome of that application, the student may be selected for verification, which means that the student or their parent will be required to submit tax information.”

After the form is completed, the applicant will receive an estimated amount of funds. This may not be the exact amount students will receive.

The estimate is based on the assumption that the student will attend college full-time. After the FAFSA packet is sent out, enrollment determines how much money each student is eligible for, Robinson said.

“Students need to realize that they may be required to provide additional information. The sooner a student submits their documents, the better it will be for them in the long run. If documents are submitted between April 1 and June 1, then they will be in the priority deadline,” Robinson said.

Mira Sedrak, a kinesiology major at Pierce and a student worker at the Financial Aid Office, knows a lot about FAFSA and the initial process to apply for aid.

“Not all students have knowledge on what goes on with financial aid,” Sedrak said. “With the new system, it can be frustrating for some students who are trying to submit their documents.”

If applicants keep up with the portal online, then they can see what paperwork they must submit. If paperwork is turned in early, it is a lot easier to become verified, Sedrak said.

“We are dependent on the district system schedule to review someone’s files and their documents. We are able to disburse financial aid to students if they pay all their fees and if they don’t have any charges on their record,” Robinson said.

Marisol Ramirez has worked at Pierce for 11 years as a financial aid technician. Helping students receive financial aid is important to her, and she is often telling students to apply because it is available to most, she said.

“Income in places like Woodland Hills tells a lot about students who apply. We have a large amount of applications each year. We also have financial aid awareness events so that we can tell our students that there is financial aid available,” Ramirez said.

The Financial Aid Office is located on the second floor of the Student Services Building. If anyone has questions about FAFSA or anything relating to the online application, documents or paperwork, faculty are available through their emails, which can be found on the Pierce website.