By Andrew O'Neill
CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Summer Wildcat
Financial aid adviser Cindy Quick emphasizes how important it is for students to be on the ball and fill out their FAFSA. "(The FAFSA) is really what drives financial aid," said Quick. "And they need to keep our office aware of what they're doing at all times so (their) rewards will be accurate."
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
One of the significant challenges students face today is how to pay for a college education.
As tuition, room, board, books and other expenses continue to pile up, students (and parents) often need a little help covering these expenses.
That is where the UA Office of Student Financial Aid comes in.
"Our mission is to serve the students, and hopefully be proactive instead of reactive to their financial needs," said Cindy Quick, a program coordinator and counselor at the financial aid office.
Quick said the first step in obtaining any type of financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.
"I encourage everybody to fill out the FAFSA," she said.
Quick said even if students don't think they will need any federal aid, it is always better to have that information on file in case they unexpectedly run out of money halfway through the academic year.
She said students have the option of filling out the form and mailing it in or submitting it online, in which case the student's information will be processed more quickly.
According to the FAFSA brochure provided by the U.S. Department of Education, schools then use the information provided on the application to determine whether students qualify to receive federal student aid from grants, loans and work-study programs.
In order to get the most available aid, financial aid counselors recommend filing the FAFSA Jan. 1, or as soon after that as possible, though it can be filed at any time throughout the year.
Quick said all students automatically qualify for some amount of federal aid in the form of a Stafford Loan, which can be accessed from the financial aid office Web site. The amount of the loan depends on the student's year in school.
Beyond this type of loan, Quick said some students qualify for need-based aid, such as Pell Grants and UA-administered grants. However, these are only available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the priority deadline to apply for these grants is March 1.
Many UA colleges and departments also provide scholarships and grants for students who demonstrate financial need.
If students still need further financial assistance, Quick said the financial aid office Web site provides information about alternative education loans offered by private lenders.
Quick said it is important for students to be aware of the many services the financial aid office provides for students.
She said all UA students are automatically assigned a financial aid counselor based on the first letter of their last name.
Students may schedule an appointment with a counselor for more personalized attention to their specific financial needs.
Quick also said there is at least one counselor "on call" each day during the week to address the concerns of walk-in students.
"Students should feel comfortable coming to us with their questions," Quick said. "No question is a dumb question."
Beginning Aug. 1, the financial aid office will return to its newly renovated location in the Administration building, Room 208.
For office hours or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, contact their office at 621-1858 or web.arizona.edu/~finaid.