More parents consider FASFA to pay for college amid pandemic

With many families under a financial strain nationwide due to the coronavirus outbreak, parents of college-bound students are now more concerned about how to pay for college than before the pandemic, according to a recent survey. 

In the survey by Discover Student Loans, almost half of the parents of college students lost income as a result of the pandemic and nearly 40% who did not plan to apply for financial aid now say they will. 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, offers hundreds of UCO students a variety of financial aid options, including loans, grants and scholarships. The FAFSA application for the 2021-2022 academic year is now open for students to fill out. 

The amount of financial aid a student receives is based on a family’s income from two years prior. For instance, students who apply for FAFSA for the 2021-2022 school year are required to submit tax returns from 2019 to determine their eligibility. However, tax records from two years ago may not properly reflect a student’s current financial situation due to pandemic related lay-offs. 

According to Tonia Barber, UCO service representative, students who have been financially impacted by the pandemic can submit a special circumstance appeal after completing their application to account for any changes in income that may not be shown in previous tax records. 

Certain situations FAFSA considers a special circumstance are a loss of employment, loss of income, paid or unpaid medical expenses in 2020, and death of a parent or spouse. 

Submitting a special circumstance appeal does not guarantee that students will receive more financial aid. Students who submit a special circumstance appeal will need to send supporting documentation that will verify each situation. 

In Oklahoma, awards are made until funds are depleted so students are advised to submit their applications as soon as possible after Oct. 1.

Students can contact the UCO financial aid office for a special circumstance form, or they can submit an online appeal located on UCO’s website. 

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