January 29, 2010

University of Alaska makes big splash for FAFSA

For Immediate Release
Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

The University of Alaska on Monday kicks off a statewide effort aimed at getting more financial aid into the hands of its 33,700 students.

The FAFSA Frenzy, as it’s called, is a month-long campaign designed to get more students to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA). The FAFSA form is used for all forms of aid, including low-interest federal loans, university grants and even private scholarships from the University of Alaska Foundation.

"Students from all income levels who complete the FAFSA have more choices when it comes to paying for school, books, rent and other necessities," said Barbara Burnett, financial aid director for the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. "This year, it’s easier than ever to complete the application; if you get stuck, there is someone at each campus to help."

The form, which takes about 5-30 minutes to complete depending on the student, can be found online at www.FAFSA.gov. The university promotes its FAFSA events at www.alaska.edu/fafsafrenzy. UA’s» FAFSA mascot, Freddie the Fish, even has his own Facebook page. Freddie will make guest appearances on different UA campuses over the next month.

FAFSA promotions also include drawings for four $100 cash cards, University of Alaska winter hats and other prizes.

UA financial aid advisors say students and families should always look to their college savings (including UA College Savings Plan accounts), grants and scholarships, and then federal loans. Private educational loans, while necessary sometimes, can come at higher rates. Federal loans have fixed low-interest rates, allow payment deferments during school and include other features, such as hardship status deferment and loan forgiveness for certain job sectors. Federal loans tend to be easier to get, as they don’t have the same credit requirements as private loans. And the federal Stafford loan program is available for all income levels.

The University of Alaska awards more than $100 million in financial aid each year. Completing the FAFSA is more important than ever because federal aid has increased over the past two years. The Pell Grant, for example, will be $5,550 for the 2010-2011 year. Independent students will need their W-2 form and latest tax return to fill out the FAFSA. The parent who provided over 50 percent of a dependent student’s care will need their family W-2 and latest tax return to get started.

Last year’s effort resulted in a 22 percent increase in FAFSA applications over the prior February.

The following help sessions are scheduled for UA’s current and incoming students during the FAFSA Frenzy:

University of Alaska Fairbanks – 1-2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Room 301 Rasmuson Library.

Tanana Valley Campus – »6 p.m. Thursdays, TVC Computer Lab.

University of Alaska Southeast – 3 p.m. Feb. 3, Egan Room 105; 2 p.m.
Feb. 7, Student Recreation Center; 10 a.m. Feb. 9, Egan Room 105; and
4 p.m. Feb. 18, Egan Room 105.

University of Alaska Anchorage – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, One
Stop Center at the University Mall, 3901 Old Seward Highway.

All other campuses – Drop-In at the Financial Aid Office.


For more information, call Cathy Ewing, UA Statewide Student Services, at 907/450-8148 or email her at clewing@alaska.edu.