Changes to the FAFSA: What you need to know

As the 2017-2018 school year approaches, students and their families need to know about changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA is important for a few reasons, as it’s a pathway to receiving several forms of financial aid including grants, loans and work study. More information is available from the office of financial aid. Here’s a rundown of what’s new.


Start your FAFSA Oct. 1

Submit your application sooner

Students can file a 2017-2018 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016. This is a permanent change and will allow students to complete their applications before the start of the new year.

Sending income information is easier

Beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will report their 2015 income information. This is a switch from the past, when the application required financial information from the previous year. That means most income information should not change from students’ 2016-2017 FAFSA.

The most important part is to file as early as possible, as the priority deadline for state-funded programs such as the Access Missouri grant is now Feb. 1, 2017. Missouri State University –West Plains’s scholarship deadline is March 31, 2017. The priority deadline for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS) is March 31, 2017.

!Completing the FAFSA!

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid that students fill out each year for financial aid.
Three ways to fill out your FAFSA
1) Online at FAFSA
2)By downloading and completing a PDF FAFSA ( got to FAFSA and scroll to FAFSA filling options)
3) By requesting and completing a paper FAFSA (request a copy by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID [1-800-433-3243])
*Applying online is generally faster and easier. The schools you list on your application will receive your processed information faster.*

Using a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) to sign your application:
While students, parents, and borrowers are not required to use an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to submit a FAFSA electronically, it is the fastest way to complete, sign, and sumbit the apllication.
Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing your FAFSA and other documents. The FSA ID replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN in May 2015. If you already have a PIN, you can link your information to your new FSA ID by entering your PIN while registering for your FSA ID. (This will save time when registering for your FSA ID.) However, a PIN is not required to create an FSA ID.

The FSA ID process consists of three main steps:
1. Enter your log-in information.
a) Provide your e-mail address, a unique username, and password.
b) Verify that you are at least 13 years old.
2. Enter your personal information.
a) Provide your Social Security number, name, and date of birth.
b) Include your mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, and language
c) For security purposes, provide answers to five challenge questions.
3. Submit your FSA ID information.
a) Agree to the terms and conditions.
b) Verify your e-mail address. (Note: By verifying your e-mail address, you can use your e-mail address as your username when logging into certain ED
websites. This verification also allows you to retrieve your username or reset your password without answering challenge questions.)
*Tip: If you already have a Federal Student Aid PIN, you can link your PIN to your FSA ID. This allows you to use your FSA ID immediately to access your personal information any of the ED websites that require a FSA ID.

If you filed a FAFSA previously
When you start to complete your 2016–17 application, you will be asked if you want the information from the 2015–16 FAFSA to pre-fill the new application. You will be given this option if you filed a 2015–16 FAFSA. This process will allow you to complete the 2016–17 FAFSA in less time.

*If you have any questions or need help filling out the FAFSA, Financial Aid in Cass Hall is always ready to help!


*Attend a FAFSA Frenzy (a state-wide initiative) on MARCH 5, from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM at Lybyer Technology Building!
*Volunteers will be available to assist you to file your FAFSA. You can also sign up for a State-Wide Drawing – One of Sixteen $500 Scholarships to be used at any postsecondary program in Missouri.
*REMEMBER – MARCH 31, 2016 is the DEADLINE for FAFSA to be completed in order to be considered for the Supplemental Grant, and Federal Work Study Program. Also, the majority of scholarships has a deadline of March 31, 2016.
*Happy Spring!

Mapping Your Education

While attending a college or university may be expensive, there are several different ways you can reduce the overall cost of higher education.

Choose an educational institution wisely.
•Evaluate the costs of public vs. private, two-year vs. four-year, in-state vs. out-of-state schools
•Take general education classes at a local state or community college
• Research graduation rates, job placement rates, and average amounts of loans borrowed from the colleges you are looking at.

Plan how you will pay for college.
-Save for college
-Use education loyalty and affinity programs
-Explore financial aid options
-Claim tax credits and deductions for education

Plan to graduate on time (within four years)
-Money is time – The longer you take the higher the cost in tuition, time, and resources, along with a delay in earning power.
-Research schools that offer accelerated programs – students should seek programs of study that will allow degree attainment in the shortest time possible.

Take accelerated coursework/curriculum
-Advanced Placement classes prepare students with the possibility of earning academic scholarships and specific scholarships in certain fields of study: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
-College Level Examinations Programs (CLEP) allows students to earn credit if they demonstrate proficiency in college courses.
-International Baccalaureate degrees could possible equate to college credit

Work outside of the classroom
-Helps build professional network and professional references
-Helps earn money for college expenses
-Federal work-study programs
-Part-time employment
-Summer jobs
-Provides opportunities for full-time employment after graduation
-Helps prioritize your time for classes, studying, and free time

Develop a spending plan
Develop a spending plan, or budget, and develop long-term and short-term goals for the money that you earn or any excess financial aid funds that may be released to you.

Check out Mapping Your Future website for more information.

Requirements To Receive Federal Student Aid

To receive student aid there are requirements students must meet first.

Students must obtain a college or career school education, either by having a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or by completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.

Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.

Be registered with Selective Service, if you are a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25).

Have a valid Social Security number unless you are from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.

Sign certifying statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that
*you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe a refund on a federal grant and
*you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.

Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school.

In Addition you must be one of the following:
-U.S. citizen or U.S. National
-Have a grean card
-Have an arrival-departure record
-Have battered immigrant status
-Have a T-Visa

To file for Federal Student Aid go to FAFSA for a free application.

Look Into All Forms Of Financial Aid

A variety of financial assistance programs are available to help you fund your college education. Scholarships, grants and work-study assignments are available to students of all ages and backgrounds.

The first step for most of these programs is to complete and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 each year. You must file your FAFSA before April 1 to qualify for the Access Missouri grant.
Findout if you qualify for financial aid.

Federal Student Aid
*Federal Pell Grant
*Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
*Teacher education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
*Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
*Federal Work Study
*Federal Perkins Loan
*Direct Subsidized Loan
*Direct PLUS Loans

State Student Aid
*A+ Scholarship
*Access Missouri Grant
*Advanced Placement Incentive Grant
*Bright Flight Scholarship
*Kids’ Chance Scholarship
*Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Scholarship
*Minority Teaching Scholarship
*Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program
*Public Service Officer Survivor Grant
*Vietnam Veteran Survivor Grant
*Wartime Veteran’s Survivors Grant

Avoid Identity Theft

Avoid and Detect Identity Theft
People between the ages of 18-24 are most likely to be affected by the fastest growing crime in America. Here are a list of 10 tips to help pretect your personal information, assests, and credit.

1) Protect personal information such as your full name, birth date, social security, and financial and medical account numbers.

2) Look out for phone, online, or email scams that ask for personal information. Shred any material that contain important material instead of throwing them away in public trash cans.

3) Carefully read the cerrespondence you receive so that you can proactively identify invoices or notices for accounts you may not have authorized.

4) Review monthly statements and notify when possible fraudulent chargers or discrepancies.

5) Use secure WI-FI and not public WI-FI when accessing sensitive information online. This helps protect the privacy and integrity of data exchanged online.

6) Create strong passwords, use two-step account verification when available, and avoid using the same passwords on multiple sites.

7) Pay attention to identity protection services may use deceptive marketing practices to solicit customers. You can protect your accounts and check statements on your own.

8) If you suspect that your Social Security number may have been stolen, putting a security freeze on your credit reports denies new creditors access to your file if anyone attempts to open new accounts in your name.

9) Set up text and email alerts for your accounts to automatically inform you when unusual or unauthorized activity may be occurring.

10) Three major credit bureaus-Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion-are required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once per year.

For more information, including identity theft and fraud protection tips go to Annual Credit Report for more tips.

7 Money Saving Strategies

Navigate The Path To Success

In today’s economy, just about everyone — not just recent college graduates — is looking for ways to cut back on their expenses and save money. So if you’ve created a budget and you’re coming up short, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help guide you on bringing your expenses down to where you need them to be.

1) Banking/Credit
-Check credit unions and local banks for the best deals on checking and savings accounts.
-If you use credit cards, pay off the full balance each month.
-Avoid fees whenever possible.

-Take advantage of free activities — like visiting museums or going to parks.
-Rent movies instead of going to the theater.

-Eat out less frequently; pack a lunch for work.
-Take advantage of specials and coupons
– Buy food in bulk

-Ask your doctor if generic forms of your prescription drugs are available

-Consider getting a roommate
-Look for a place to live that’s close to public transportation
-Lower the thermostat a few degrees in winter; raise it a few degrees in summer

-Check out thrift stores, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, etc., for furniture, kitchen supplies, and other household items

-Use public transportation when possible
-Carpool or use a car-sharing service
-Walk or bike to work

Visit Navient for more tips and a monthly budget worksheet to help you on the path to financial success.

Commerce Bank Scholarship Drawing!

Register now to win one of two (2) $1,000 college scholarships* from Commerce Bank! If your name is drawn, Commerce will pay your school towards your 2015/2016 education expenses. Just complete the form and click “Submit.”
-If your name is drawn, Commerce will send a check to your school towards your 2015 education expenses.

-Register today at: Commerce Bank

-Sweepstakes ends December 31, 2015

-No purchase or account necessary to enter or win and will not increase your chances of winning.

-Entries must include complete name, age, mailing address, email,address, phone number and entrant’s post-secondary educational instituin in order to be valid.

-Limit only (1) entry per Eligible Student regarless of entry method.

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Student Loans

Steps to do before you make your 1st student loan payment.

Student loans often help make it possible to earn a degree, which over time can help you earn more. If student loans were a part of your college funding stragety, you’ll start repaying them soon. Follow these helpful tips along your path to repayment and you could be well on your way to a bright financial future.

Know what you owe. Review your federal student loan borrowing history.
-Visit and to view all of your federal student loans and to find contact infrmation of your loan servicer.

Make sure your servicer knows how to contact you.
-Inform your sevicer if you change your street address or phone number.

Select the repayment plan that’s right for you.
-Research repayement options at

Make on-time payments
-This helps to build and maintain a good credit rating.

Consider paying a little extra each month
-Paying just a few extra dollars of prinicpal each month can go a long way toward helping you pay off your loans faster.

Seek help at the first sign of financial difficulty.

Use deferment and forbearance only as a last resort.
-Postponing payments can cost you if unpaid accrued interest is added to the loan balance.