FAFSA fundamentals

Informational cards sit on the FAFSA desk for students.

Students had the opportunity to get personalized help with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid on Feb. 8 during one of the Money Management Center’s “drop-in help” nights.

While the center offers several resources, its main focus is helping students complete their FAFSA for upcoming semesters. Students can get guidance with other financial decisions by making an appointment at the Money Management Center.

“FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the application for grants and loans so that students can make it to graduation,” Jennifer Garner, financial literacy coordinator, said. “My goal in the Money Management Center is to get students to graduation with as little debt as possible.”

The event was held from 4-7 p.m. to help students who might have scheduling conflicts with the Money Management Center’s usual hours.

“The center holds several events throughout the year to cater to non-traditional students,” Garner said.

Caroline Horlacher, a WSU freshman, works as a student FAFSA coach with the Money Management Center by guiding students through the application process.

“The biggest question and help that people need is with the FAFSA form because sometimes it’s confusing,” Horlacher said. “They’ll come in and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, where’s this? How do I do this?’”

The tedious process and the lack of guaranteed financial aid can deter students from applying for additional funding through FAFSA. Some students believe their parents’ income will prevent them from qualifying for aid.

The Money Management Center’s website informs students and parents that many students qualify for financial aid, there are many different kinds of aid available and there’s no income cutoff to qualify.

“I would honestly recommend anyone to try [FAFSA] because we’re all paying taxes, so we might as well receive federal funding,” Horlacher said. “I mean, it’s only fair.”

While not every student who applies will receive grants or loans, several WSU specialized scholarships require students to complete the FAFSA application. Specialized scholarships are department-specific scholarships from within Weber State.

“We really try to help them with that Specialized Scholarship Application so that they can get the funding that they need to be less stressed and more successful,” Garner said. “Declare your major, even if it’s going to change, because then you’re eligible for departmental scholarships.”

The Money Management Center helps students beyond FAFSA and scholarship applications. Through the center, WSU students have access to free advice on debt, loans, budgeting and financial emergencies.

“Nobody likes to budget,” Garner said. “Nobody likes their money yelling at them saying, ‘there’s more month than money.’ Nobody likes that. But the more we control our funding, the way we spend, then the less we put ourselves in situations that just aren’t great.”

Garner gave four tips for students: complete the FAFSA, declare your major, apply for a Specialized Scholarship and avoid predatory loans.

Students can make appointments with the Money Management Center at weber.edu/moneymanagement, or visit the center in Shepherd Union 214A from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The WSU Money Management center is eager to help students succeed.

“Just reducing the financial stress can help a student be a better student,” Garner said.