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Financial Aid: Help is Just an Application Away

February 16, 2007

Financial Aid: Help is Just an Application Away

After six years in financial aid advising, it might seem like Christina Mayo has seen everything, heard every story and worked on every scenario.

Just when she thinks she has seen and heard it all, along comes another group of financial aid applicants she can shepherd through the process to find the help they need.

Every student’s profile is so different, Mayo said. Just apply. That’s what I tell everyone. We look at each student, case by case.

Advisors use a variety of sources to come up with the financial aid packages they offer to students, including federal, state, UC system and UC Merced grants and scholarships, loans and work study.

But students who don’t apply on time eliminate a majority of those options.

As the March 2 deadline to file the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) closes in, Mayo and the others in the Financial Aid Office are beginning to see the yearly influx. They hope it grows into an avalanche.

She enjoys helping people afford to get into and stay in college. Mayo, who worked at Merced College for almost eight years before starting at UC Merced last fall, said she’s always gratified to see what financial aid can do for people.

She remembered one Merced College student, a single mother, whose house burned down. The woman and her small daughter had to live in a hotel while their home was repaired. Financial aid was able to account for her situation, and contributed to her getting through the semester.

She passed all of her classes that year, Mayo said. Financial aid helped her.

Even students who think they don’t qualify should file the FAFSA, she said, because in many cases, once their family incomes have been verified, they get more than they thought possible.

The free money is out there, Mayo said. Students shouldn’t assume they aren’t eligible. They just need to submit their applications before the deadline and maintain good grades to further their education and keep their financial assistance.

For information on student aid, visit the Financial Aid Office in the Students First Center on the first floor of the library, or go online to