Our View: FAFSA’s invisible deadlines

DKS Editors

Consider this a public service announcement: Complete your FAFSA forms because the priority deadline at Kent State is Sunday. That’s two days from now.

Even though the FAFSA deadline is not technically until June 30, Kent State will award campus-based financial aid then to those who are eligible, and the FAFSA must be completed. For incoming freshmen, the deadline to apply was in January.

The Office of Financial Aid distributes funds on a first-come, first-serve basis, which is why it is extra important to meet that priority deadline.

Campus-based financial aid refers to the financial aid programs that Kent State handles. The federal government provides the university with a fixed annual allocation, which the university awards to deserving students.

Seem complicated? We agree. That’s why we’re surprised the university hasn’t taken a more proactive approach in notifying students of the deadline – especially this year.

College students are not immune to the economic hardships our country is currently facing.

After all, Kent State’s financial aid office found a 35 percent increase in the number of people attending financial aid programs this year compared to last year because of the economy.

The $787 billion stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed last week includes $54 billion for education, some of which is making its way to financial aid programs. For example, the maximum Pell Grant will increase to $5,500 by 2010, and, for the first time, students from families who do make enough money to owe taxes will be eligible for a tuition tax credit, according to higher education publication The Chronicle.

Clearly, higher education is a critical component in the United States’ plan to revive the economy.

Kent State’s financial aid office heeded the call, offering more programs at the university and visiting high schools. The office even sent out multiple people to attend programs after receiving requests. That’s a great – and laudable – start.

But the university should follow up on the process by hounding students to meet deadlines. Once spring semester hits, so do all the financial aid and scholarship deadlines. Despite students’ best efforts, it’s often hard to keep track of each deadline.

The university has plenty of communication tools at its disposal, including the ability to mass message all students.

Notify students via Facebook. Make an announcement on FlashLine under the “Important Campus Dates” section. Plaster the deadline across Kent State’s homepage.

In essence, do whatever it takes. The future of the economy depends on higher-educated people entering the workforce.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.