Florida A&M’s Office of Financial Aid urged students to apply early and learn the rules for federal financial aid to simplify the process.
Only 16 students attended Wednesday’s “Financial Aid Empowerment Forum” at Perry-Paige Auditorium.
“We have to look for ways to get more students out,” said Emmanuel Agboola, the coordinator for the Office of Financial Aid. “Just imagine how many students will come to our office and ask about the same information that we have covered.”
Office of Financial Aid Coordinator Carita Evans wants students to know the federal government has made many changes to the financial aid process.
“You can only get a Pell Grant for summer term only if you didn’t utilize 100 percent of the grant during the academic year,” said Evans. “These are not FAMU or FSU laws, but it is the federal government that dictates what we have to do.”
The government previously awarded Pell Grants for summer terms to help students get on track for graduation, but the government has set stricter grant qualifications because students have used it to take classes like golf and jazz, and to prevent them from becoming “professional students,” those who attend school solely to receive money from the government. The Pell Grant duration has also been reduced from 18 to 12 semesters, or 121 credit hours. Graduate students are now only eligible for unsubsidized loans.
Merilyn Smith, the associate director for the Office of Financial Aid, hopes students understand the importance of submitting their Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) forms early.
The first day to submit the FAFSA for any academic year is Jan. 1. Individuals who file by March 1 are first-priority for financial aid awards.
Evans said FAMU’s financial aid website has a lot of new information and over 150 scholarship opportunities. Interested persons can go to www.famu.edu/financialaid for more information.
Jasmine Newbill, a fourth-year pre-physical therapy student, said she wished more students were able to attend the forum because it conveyed a lot of useful information.
“I enjoyed the fact that we were able to ask our questions and they were able to answer all of them,” said Newbill. “I did not know that the federal government was making so many changes, but I am truly glad that I was able to find out before it is too late.”