Stop being lazy: It’s time to file FAFSA

By Jackie Nevarez

Although the semester has just begun, it is time to start thinking about finances for the upcoming school year.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is filled out by students to determine how much financial aid they receive for college.

Financial aid includes grants, loans and work-study given by the state and federal government.

FAFSA is nothing new to students.

According to the office of Federal Student Aid, $137.6 billion was awarded to more than 14 million students and families that filed in 2013.

Financial aid is vital for students who desire an education but do not have the means to acquire it on their own.

If it weren’t for the financial aid I received, I would probably not be able to attend NIU, or else I would have been buried in debt from private loans.

Sophomore accountancy major Julia Selvie filed her FAFSA on Jan. 1 and has gained useful information from her classes.

“I have learned that I should start to save and invest my money. I try not to take out so many loans and rent or buy books to save money,” Selvie said.

Financial aid and scholarships were on par with academics when it came to choosing my university. I chose to wait to receive my financial awards from each school before deciding to enroll at NIU.

I took into account that NIU was offering me a great scholarship that would complement the financial aid I received through FAFSA.

Those who aren’t familiar with the form should not be alarmed. As a student who has filed the FAFSA twice, I can confirm it consists of a series of simple questions that inquire about the assets and income of your family.

Estimates of tax returns are accepted for those who cannot file their taxes right away. The form just urges you to put in the correct information as soon as you file.

If you are not sure if you qualify for financial aid, NIU’s Student Financial Aid Office is devoted to financial aid inquiries.

You could also visit the FAFSA website at and begin the application process.

Natalie Padilla, freshman pre-nursing major, filed the FAFSA for the first time last year.

She encourages students to seek help if they have questions, concerns or more.

“If you need help, see a counselor,” Padilla said. “My counselor helped me file the FAFSA in high school. You don’t have to do it alone.”

According to the Student Financial Aid Office website, the priority filing date is March 1.

Illinois gives aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

As a student who is dependent on financial aid, I cannot stress enough the importance of filing the FAFSA. Looking for other financial aid opportunities, such as private scholarships, is also encouraged.

Education can be pricey, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t attainable.