FAFSA and scholarships open Oct. 1: Here’s what to know

There are a few things that are certain for college students; parking troubles, gameday, and the FAFSA. With FAFSA and the 2023-2024 WCU Scholarship Application opening Oct. 1, what is the FAFSA?  

The Western Carolinian took to WCU’s financial aid office to find out. Here is what Senior Assistant Director, Maggie Brostic, had to say to questions posed by students: 

What is the FAFSA? 

Free Application for Federal Student Aid; To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, as well as state aid and many scholarships, complete the FAFSA at www.studentaid.gov. 

When do I apply for the FAFSA? 

The FAFSA opens every Oct. 1. The priority filing deadline is January 2, 2023, for the 2023/2024 FAFSA. 

What is the deadline to apply? 

While there is not an official deadline, students are encouraged to submit the FAFSA as early as possible each year. Some funding sources are limited and might not be available to an otherwise eligible student if they submit the FAFSA late. 

Does the FAFSA have anything to do with other financial aid? 

To be considered for need-based aid (grants, work-study, many scholarships), a student must submit a FAFSA application annually. 

How is the FAFSA awarded? (First-come, first-served?) 

Some funding sources are first-come, first-served, while other funds, such as Pell Grant, are available to eligible students whenever they apply. While not all funding sources are first-come, first-served, again, it’s to the student’s benefit to submit the FAFSA as early as possible every year. 

What information do I need to apply for the FAFSA? 

FSA ID information for students and for parents (if a dependent student). The Carolinian recommends keeping your IDs and log-in information where you can easily access it and find it each year. 

What forms do I need to complete the FAFSA? 

Prior-prior year tax information for student and parent, if applicable. For the 2023/2024 FAFSA, the 2021 tax year information will be used. 

What happens if my (or my parents’) income changes? 

If a student/parent has a significant change in circumstances since the information provided on the FAFSA, they can contact the Financial Aid Office for assistance. We have appeal processes in the case of loss of employment, divorce, death of a parent or spouse, etc. 

Should students check the box for work-study to avoid being waitlisted later? Is there a disadvantage to checking said box? 

If a student indicates on the FAFSA that they are interested in work-study, they will be offered work-study when the financial aid offer is made, if funding is available. If funding is not available at that time, the student can request to be added to the work-study waitlist, if eligible. Most students on the waitlist are subsequently offered work-study opportunities. If a student is not eligible for work-study, they can still work on campus, however, in non-work-study jobs. Campus employment information is available through Jobcat. 

Work-study positions are capped at 20 hours a week, whereas non-work-study are capped at 25.

What about scholarships?

To apply for scholarships through WCU, visit https://www.wcu.edu/apply/scholarships/. Other scholarships can be found online, such as scholarships.com.

If you have any questions regarding the FAFSA or any financial aid, please contact the Office of Financial Aid. 

Email: finaid@wcu.edu 

Website: finaid.wcu.edu 

Phone: 828-227-7290