Five Facts: FAFSA and Financial Aid

Second semester is underway–you’ve figured out how tuition payments work (hopefully!) and you’re well on your way to a strong second semester! Now what?!

You NEED to fill out the FAFSA this year.

Even though you likely filled it out last year, you must fill it out again this year in order to keep (or receive) your financial aid for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The FAFSA deadline has CHANGED!

The priority deadline is now February 1, 2017! This deadline is fast approaching, so be sure to start working on your FAFSA application so you don’t miss the deadline!

Earlier, easier, huh?

Yes, you’ve probably been hearing that this year the FAFSA is “Earlier, Easier, and More Accurate.” This year you will use your 2015 tax information to file your FAFSA. For more information on changes for this year, check out the Student Financial Aid website!

Scholarships!

There are SOO many great opportunities for scholarships. Personally, I have always found it beneficial to check my college’s website for major specific scholarships (or asking my academic advisor). Other scholarships you might want to look into:

  • Ohio State Special Scholarships Application
  • Edward S. “Beanie” Drake Student Leadership Endowment Fund
    • DUE: February 5, 2017
    • WHAT: The purpose of this scholarship is to provide funds that enable deserving students to participate in campus activities when need might otherwise make it impossible for them to do so. There will be multiple scholarships awards at a minimum of $2,500 divided over 2 semesters.
    • APPLICATION: Edward S. Beanie Scholarship Application
  • Student Alumni Council Scholarship
    • DUE: January 31, 2017
    • WHAT: 5 scholarships (3 for current first years and 2 for upperclassmen) for students who have expressed excellence and leadership both inside and outside of the classroom
    • APPLICATION: Student Alumni Council Scholarship Application

Still confused?

You’re not alone–we totally understand that this can be a confusing and sometimes stressful process. If you have specific questions about financial aid or the FAFSA, Student Financial Aid has lots of helpful resources on their website!

  • More questions? Contact Buckeye Link
    • In Person: First floor lobby of the Student Academic Services Building (281 W. Lane Ave)
      • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday
    • Call: 614-292-0300
    • Email: buckeyelink@osu.edu

Ohio State Spotlight: The Application for Special Scholarships

Recently I had the chance to talk with Ellen S. who works in Student Financial Aid, specifically with Special Scholarships. She was able to provide me with answers to my questions as well as give me some advice on certain things that they like to see on the application.

What is it?

The Special Scholarships application enables Ohio State students to be considered for several thousands of special-eligibility scholarships that encompass a wide variety of eligibility criteria. The application is also free, just like the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

How many scholarships are offered?

Thousands upon hundreds of scholarships.

What do I need to do to apply?

First, access the application through the Student Financial Aid website. Students are encouraged to fill out both their FAFSA and the Application for Special Scholarships by the priority date of February 15.

The application asks basic questions regarding a student’s activities and affiliations, family information, and diversity. It also asks for a personal statement. [Cue dramatic music]

I’m only a freshman–How could I ever have enough to write a personal statement?

Don’t panic: the Financial Aid office understands that by the time this application is due, first-year students have been in college for less than a year. While it’s okay to highlight personal accomplishments from high school, take some time to reflect back on your first year and the things that make you proud. Maybe you can write about a professor that you’ve gotten a chance to know better, or about some affiliations–student organizations, religious groups, residence hall, etc.–that you have on campus.

The personal statement prompt has no structure or format but does require that you stick to the 900-word limit. The application gives students some prompts to get your started, but you are not required to stick to those. Make sure to talk about some things that you can bring to the Ohio State community, as well as some of the struggles that you’ve had to overcome. It is recommended that you complete your personal statement in a Word document or similar software that can be copied and pasted into the application text box; if the application timer (found at the bottom of the application page) runs out, your response will not be saved.

Common mistakes to avoid?

NOT CHECKING YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR!

In a world where everyone is more text-savvy, it’s easy to forget how to properly use certain words and punctuation. Make sure to have someone proofread your work before submitting any of your essays. You can check the Writing Center’s walk-in hours in Thompson Library to get some quick feedback on your writing.

Having an “okay” personal statement

The personal statement is where you need to shine. When talking about how a scholarship can help you, an “alright” answer would be “College is expensive.” A better way to answer this question is to take some time to reflect on how a scholarship can help to alleviate some of the stresses in your life , or how it can help you accomplish some of your long-term goals.

I hope this has inspired you to get started on your Special Scholarships application! Financial Aid wants to award as many of its scholarships to as many students as possible, so take some time–winter break is a terrific option–to complete your application by February 15!