By Evelyn Mena
In order to receive college money for the 2018-2019-term year, you must apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1, 2018. Montgomery College is offering help to anyone wishing to complete or apply for FAFSA/financial aid on all three campuses.
Through federal grants, loans, and work-study, they provide more than $120 billion “to more than 13 million students paying for college or career school.” If you apply by the FASFA deadline, they automatically send your information to the Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS) to see if you are eligible for in-state grants and or loans. Maryland students have the opportunity to see if they are eligible for in-state financial aid, in addition to the money they might receive from FAFSA.
Chidalu Mbonu, a federal work-study student at the Rockville Montgomery College (MC) Welcome Center, helps students who want to begin or complete their FASFA application. She has been working at the Welcome Center for over a year and said that approximately 10-20 students come in for help from the time they are open to the time they close. “Most of them are either independent students who do not need their parents’ information,” she said.
Mbonu said that a student needs to be at least 24 years old in order to be classified as an independent student because the “federal government still refers to them as dependent since [they] require their parents’ signatures at the end”. If a student is 23 or below, they need their parent’s information and signature for the application.
The Welcome Center helps students who are applying for the next term application as long as it remains open. Between the months that the federal government opens the FASFA term period, those who are working at the Welcome Center help students as long as it remains open. Once the federal government closes the term period, they must wait until the following year to apply for financial aid.
Though the 2018-2019-application deadline is tomorrow, the Welcome Center is still filing FAFSA for 2017-2018 for any students who are interested in taking summer classes. In order to file for FAFSA, students must meet certain requirements. The Federal Student Aid website points out the general eligibility requirements which include the basic needs of proving one’s financial need (for most programs), being a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen, and having a valid Social Security number.
Sometimes certain students cannot file a FAFSA application because they do not meet one of the basic requirements. One of the basic requirements to apply for FASFA is being a U.S. citizen, but as mentioned above from the Federal Student Aid website, “an eligible noncitizen” may be able to file. Mbonu said that at the MC Welcome Center, they help students in asylum, international, and permanent residents. As long as they provide an Alien number and a Social Security number, they can help them file FASFA.
Darryl Misher, a Welcome Center Specialist in Rockville, has been working at MC for the past 16 years. Misher calls the financial aid period a “non-stop situation,” seeing as those who are eligible and meet the criteria may apply for financial aid.
Misher said that for “the last 5 years, the Welcome Center has been here and we have been assisting students with the financial aid process ever since we’ve started.” During this semester, Misher states that around 200 students “if not more”, have come to the Welcome Center to receive help on their FAFSA.
The first question the Welcome Center employees ask is about students’ residency status. In order to file FASFA, one must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident; if they do meet those criteria or are not an eligible noncitizen, they “cannot apply for financial aid”.
You can learn more about FASFA by going to their website or going to the Welcome Center on any of the three campuses. To receive help and file your FASFA for the next term period or to see if you are able to receive some money for summer classes, Misher, from the Rockville MC Welcome Center said to “Make sure you see Darryl.”