By JENNA HULITT
Students may have noticed, or have been a part in, the long lines at the financial aid office this past summer. If one was standing in one of these unbelievably long lines, they were probably wondering what the holdup was this year. Many students didn’t receive their financial aid before the school year started, leaving many students without books and unsure whether or not they’d be able to pay for school if the financial aid didn’t go through. So what was the holdup?
Some students didn’t apply for financial aid before the June 1st deadline, and some even not until July or August. Students must understand that “their application and paperwork that they turn in to the financial aid office must be reviewed and processed,” says Kim Mitchell, Director of Financial Aid here at Cumberland County College. “Any mistake that they made must be corrected either by the student or in most cases the office on their behalf before aid can be offered.” So if students don’t apply until August, this step alone delays the process even further. “Applying for aid does not end with completion of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on the web, this is only the beginning. The school has a lot of checks and balances that must be reviewed prior to making an award. This is why the deadline is so important,” says Kim Mitchell. The FAFSA form doesn’t only have to be filled out by students seeking aid, but also students with NJSTARS as well as student loans. Student loans can’t be awarded until the student completes the FAFSA process.
Another possible factor for the delays in financial aid is the increase in applicants not only for enrollment but for financial aid itself. According to Kim Mitchell, close to 70% of the students here at Cumberland County College are receiving some kind of aid to help pay their tuition/fee cost. Here are some of the basic criteria for federal student aid, provided by Kim Mitchell: family income, family assets, number of persons in household, number of persons in college, academic progress, citizenship/eligible noncitizen, selective service registration, not in default on prior student loans, and high school graduation/GED certification.
Any questions can be answered by visiting Cumberland County College’s website (http://www.cccnj.edu), FAFSA’s website (http://www.fafsa.ed.gov), or the US Department of Education’s website (http://www.studentaid.ed.gov). Students can also call or visit the financial aid office, which is located on campus in the Student Center, to make an appointment