The UC Merced Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships is committed to ensuring a world-class education remains within reach for all eligible students who need financial assistance to achieve their educational goals.
Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Ron Radney shares his top 10 tips to help students and parents navigate the process of applying for and receiving financial aid:
1. Apply for Admission — Financial aid offices will typically determine aid eligibility only after a student has been formally admitted to the college and their financial aid application data has been received electronically.
2. Apply for Financial Aid — Complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA), between Oct. 1 and March 2 (deadline for California) during the senior year of high school. For a list of FAFSA/CADAA workshops, check with a high school counselor or online at cash4college.csac.ca.gov. The FAFSA or CADAA must be completed annually to continue aid eligibility.
3. Identify Special Circumstances — The FAFSA and CADAA require household income and tax information for the year prior to the last tax year. If current household income is significantly less than the prior-prior year, contact the financial aid office to complete a special-circumstance petition. Additionally, make the financial aid office aware of any significant out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical, dental, etc., or any other special or unusual circumstances.
4. Focus on Net Price — Don’t get discouraged by the sticker price. Once financial aid award offers are received, subtract the amount of total gift-aid offered from the cost of attendance to determine the net price at each college.
5. Apply for Scholarships — Prioritize efforts beginning with institutional and regional scholarships before you spend much time searching for national scholarships. Institutional scholarship application processes and deadlines can vary dramatically depending on the school and system. Additionally, stay in contact with high school counselors for information on local scholarships, and never pay to search or apply for scholarships.
6. Understand Student Loans Before You Borrow — Students may be offered federal student loans in their award packages but are under no obligation to accept these loans. Students may also elect to request lesser amounts of loan funds.
7. Pay Attention to Deadlines — Financial aid funds are limited. Priority consideration is given to students who meet application and document submission deadlines. Missing deadlines could result in forfeiting institutional grants, work-study awards and more.
8. Monitor Email and Web Portal — The primary means of communication by financial aid offices is typically email, and most post requirements on a campus student Web portal. Be sure to monitor both on a regular basis for important communications.
9. Communicate Housing Changes — Financial aid award offers are based in part on the housing status you indicated on your FAFSA or CADAA. Standardized Cost of Attendance budgets are used for students living on campus, off campus, or commuting. If a student changes housing status, it will likely affect their financial aid award package.
10. Enrollment Status and Grades are Important — Grants must be prorated for students who are enrolled less than full-time. Continued aid eligibility is based on maintaining the college’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standards (e.g., GPA, Pace (the percentage of units completed), and maximum cumulative unit and time limits. Before dropping a class, be sure to consult with the financial aid office in advance to find out the potential aid eligibility impact.
Entrepreneurs to Share Secrets of Success
Spend a couple days at UC Merced meeting successful entrepreneurs and hearing how they have brought their ideas to life and learning about the essentials of entrepreneurship in this special series of workshops.
Everyone is welcome to attend the event that takes place from from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 3, in Kolligian Library Room 355 on the UC Merced campus, and is open to everyone. Tuition is $50 per day for the general public, and $20 a day for UC Merced students, and you can register online at bit.ly/UCMBusiness.
UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the University Communications staff. To contact them, email firstname.lastname@example.org.