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Survey finds more families may apply for federal student aid due to pandemic

TAMPA, Fla. — The pandemic may be forcing more families to look to school financial aid than in the past. School financial aid offices want families to apply and fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible.“You won’t know what you actually qualify for until you apply,” said USF Financial Aid program director Dameion Lovett.A Discover Student Loans survey found almost 50 percent of parents lost income as a result of the pandemic and nearly 40 percent of parents who didn’t plan to apply for federal aid now say they will in light of the health crisis.The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine a student’s financial aid eligibility. The form for 2021-2022 opened on October 1 and is based off your 2019 tax information. However, Lovett says financial aid administrators are able to re-evaluate a family’s financial situation, like if your income has changed.“It basically will help the student and family have a more realistic financial aid status and also provide them with the correct amount of funding based on what their situation is at the point in time that they need it,” said Lovett. “A lot of the schools, what we are actually seeing due to the pandemic is an increase in those types of requests. We call those, in the financial aid realm ‘professional judgement requests,’ to go in and re-evaluate the family’s income.”Lovett says to make sure to check your school’s deadline as well. Some financial aid sources are limited and given on a first-come, first-serve basis. In order to maximize your opportunity and get as much aid as possible, Lovett says apply early.“We always encourage every family, regardless of their financial situation, to apply because you never know what’s going to happen two days from now, and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected,” said Lovett.

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