Deadlines loom for scholarship, financial aid applications

The last “School connection” column, appearing in the Nov. 29 edition, discussed the college selection and application process.

For most families, the biggest deciding factor in if and where a student will go to college is the ability to pay for it. For many families, financial aid and scholarships will be necessary.

Beginning Jan. 1, families can complete the most essential form for financial aid: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Try to submit the FAFSA as early as possible to maximize your chances for college grants. Students and parents should try to complete 2012 income tax returns prior to completing the FAFSA. If this is not possible, file your FAFSA using estimated tax figures and make corrections after you have filed your tax returns.

It is easiest to complete the FAFSA online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA on the Web allows families to transfer information provided on federal tax returns from the IRS database to the FAFSA. The FAFSA will need to be signed by the student and at least one parent whose information is provided on the form. Student and parent can apply for PINs while completing the FAFSA on the Web so the form can be signed electronically. Missing signatures cause delays in processing. (Note: There are special exceptions for parents unable to sign due to active military duty or natural disaster. Contact your college for further information.)

Information from the FAFSA will be used to determine federal and state aid, including grants and student loans. Additional scholarships may be available as well. The website www.mcsfex.net has a useful tool to assist in finding scholarships.

In addition, families can “like” the NBVC School Liaison Facebook page. Scholarships for military-connected students will be posted there regularly. Many scholarship deadlines are quickly approaching. Begin the scholarship search now for the 2013-14 school year.

Students who plan to attend college in California should be aware of the Cal Grant. These grants, which consider family income and the student’s grade point average, are free aid offered to California students pursuing higher education. Many military dependents use them to pay for college.

Cal Grant A currently gives recipients up to $5,472 at a California State University and up to $12,192 a year to students attending the University of California.

To qualify for a Cal Grant, the FAFSA and grades must be submitted by March 2. Many schools will send grades electronically. However, students and parents must sign to give permission for the grades to be sent. For more information visit the California Student Aid Commission at http://www.csac.ca.gov/ or your high school counselor.

— For more information on college preparation and college financial aid, please contact the NBVC School Liaison Office at 805-989-5211 or email monica.james@navy.mil.

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Commanding Officer

CAPT. LARRY VASQUEZ

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