Silver City, NM- Have you ever been or have been at risk of being dis-enrolled due to issues regarding your FAFSA? Don’t worry, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening.
First we need to understand why dis-enrollment happens. Dis-enrollment occurs when a students financial aid either isn’t secure or finalized. Sometimes this is because students are missing certain documents needed to complete their application, but most times students are simply applying far too late.
Last year, FAFSA applications open on the first of January, while the priority deadline is April 1st. While the financial aid office will continue to help students right up to the first week of the fall semester, those who get their applications done in the first three months before April will receive their awards first and don’t need to worry about being dis-enrolled. This has changed this year, as now students can complete their applications for the 2017-2018 year as early as October 1st, 2016, using their 2015 tax forms.
However, despite having such early deadlines for FAFSA applications, students are still completing their applications far later than they should. This past year, only 43% of WNMU students completed their FAFSA by the priority deadline of April 1st. 39% applied in May, 48% in June, 58% in July and a whopping 71% in August, mere weeks before the start of the Fall semester.
Isaac Brundage, the Vice President of Student Affairs, urges students to get their financial aid applications done early, and especially to take advantage of the new early FAFSA applications the university has instituted this semester.
There are some other changes being instituted so help students with this process. One is orientation. Incoming students that attend WNMU orientations will be taught how to check their financial aid status through their Mustang Express.
To check your financial aid status, log into your Mustang Express and click on the student tab. Then clicking on the link to Financial Aid, you can view your award information. This will show you an account summary which will let you see either what you owe or what you’re getting as a refund. If the amount has a minus beside it, it’s your refund. If doesn’t, it’s what you owe. If there is a zero at the top, then your expenses are paid and you’re good to go.
You can also view an award payment schedule, which will show the amounts of whatever grants, scholarships or student loans you are receiving and the dates that they will be processed through the financial aid office.
Students should always check their Mustang Express to view their financial aid information.
The university has also made some changes to help students. For students complaining about not being able to get a hold of someone in the Financial Aid office, the university has hired two additional “Earn to Learn” student workers to assist students. The office is also restructuring to include two Financial Aid Counselors instead of just one, as well as adding a new Director of Financial Aid. Office Assistants from various departments, Student Service Specialists and Work Study’s in Student Affairs will also be trained to assist students with any Financial Aid problems. Local High Schools in Silver City, Bayard, Deming, Lordsburg and T or C will host Financial Aid nights to instruct students on how to apply for FAFSA.
This year, if you haven’t done so already, get your financial aid done early, using your 2015 tax returns. If you have any friends or family that are about to attend Western New Mexico University next fall, make sure that they attend orientation. You can also check the status of your financial aid through your Mustang Express, by clicking on the student tab. Working together, WNMU administrators and students can put an end to dis-enrollment.
Those with any questions regarding the FAFSA process can check out a FAQ page here.