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File Your FASFA for a Chance to Win Money!

By: Emily Shanmugam

Students who file the FAFSA early on will be entered in a drawing and have the chance to win some prize money. One $75 cash prize will be given away to a student whose FAFSA is received before December 31st, and one $50 cash prize will be given to a student whose FAFSA is received by January 31st. The sooner students submit the FAFSA, the more opportunities they have to walk away with some cash!

For those who do not know, the FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The U.S. Department of Education requires students to fill out the form each year to receive federal financial aid. While international students do not need to, all students who are U.S. citizens should file the FAFSA—many are often eligible for some type of aid. Furthermore, Student Financial Services cannot finalize a student’s financial aid package until they receive the student’s FAFSA. Students should note that, even if they have filed a FAFSA in the past, they must renew their application each year.

The application for the 2023-24 academic year opened on October 1st, and the deadline to complete it is June 30th, 2024. However, students should complete it as soon as possible, since some aid has a date limit. In order to file the FAFSA, students should go to FAFSA.gov, which walks students through the process of applying or reapplying for aid. Additionally, Student Financial Services can answer any questions and help students file the FAFSA. They are located inthe lower level of the library.

Student financial services also wanted to add that there have been a lot of questions concerning whether a student is considered independent or dependent when completing their FAFSA. These are the factors that determine if a student qualifies for independent status.

1) You will be 24 or older by January 1st of the school year you are applying for (for 2023-24, the date is January 1, 2024)

2) You are married or separated but not divorced

3) You are working towards a master’s or doctorate degree

4) You have children or other dependents for which you provide more than 50% of their support

5) You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces other than training (Reserves does not qualify)

6) You are a veteran of the U.S. armed forces

7) Any time after the age of 13, both of your parents were deceased, you were in foster care, or were a ward or dependent of the court

8) It was determined by the court that you are an emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship

9) You were determined by your high school, director of any emergency shelter, or director of a runaway or homeless youth center to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless*

10) You were determined by your high school, director of any emergency shelter, or director of a runaway or homeless youth center to be self-supporting and at risk of being homeless*

* “Homeless” means lacking fixed or regular housing. You may be homeless if you are living in shelters, parks, motels, hotels, cars, or temporarily living with someone else because you have nowhere else to go.


In some cases, Student Financial Services can override the dependency status for a student and change that status to independent.


According to the Department of Education, a student who is 23 years of age or younger is classified as a dependent student. However, if extenuating circumstances exist (such as an abusive, detrimental, or non-existent relationship with both parents), a professional judgment decision can be made by a financial aid representative to grant independent status for a year.


None of the following examples warrant a dependency override:

· Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.

· Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.

· Parents do not claim student as a dependent for income tax purposes.

· Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency

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