CU staff recommends filing for financial aid by Feb. 15

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Christina Miller and Tawny Vilchis

Campbellsville University

Planning to attend college in fall 2011? Need money? It's time to get a jump on the FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Campbellsville University's Office of Financial Aid helps college students with financing. The FAFSA is the first step a student can take to begin the financial plan they need for higher education, according to Aaron Gabehart, assistant director of financial aid at Campbellsville University.

Gabehart said, "Our message is that students should file their 2011-2012 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov by Feb. 15, 2011, by estimating using previous years taxes, W-2s or using your 2010 tax information."

It's important to file the FAFSA early in order "to be eligible for maximum aid. The FAFSA should be filed by [Feb. 15, 2011] because government funds do run out."

Gabehart said, "For our students, it can mean tens of thousands of dollars by the time they graduate."

The college-bound student will answer questions based on family income and assets. This information then calculates the annual amount of money the government expects the parents and student to be able to pay toward the college education.

The application is reviewed to determine if the student qualifies for need-based aid. If the total expense exceeds the amount the family is able to pay then the student will be able to be rewarded need-based loans and/or grants to assist in paying college bills.

"Each year, we have students who do not file by the priority date who lose out on money. These students generally have to end up borrowing this money on a loan in order to remain in school. If they would have filed by Feb. 15, they may have qualified for free grant money instead of having to borrow it on a loan," Gabehart said.

To take out a federal loan of any type including the unsubsidized Stafford Loan, a FAFSA must be filed.

For more information on the FAFSA, visit www.fafsa.gov.

To find more information about financial aid at CU, visit www.campbellsville.edu/financial-aid.