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Students and Parents: Federal Aid Deadline is Fast Approaching

February 1, 2007

MERCED, CA— Even if students don’t think
they qualify, they should file their Free Application for Federal
Student Aid by March 2.

That’s the advice UC Merced’s financial aid officials offer to
all students, regardless of income.

In fact, UC Merced has new grant and scholarship programs this
year that allows additional grant or scholarship money for
first-year students with annual family incomes of up to $80,000.
The funding comes from the University of California Office of the
President, and expands the numbers and amounts of such grants over
what UC Merced has been able to offer in the past two years.

These new programs provide fee coverage for students who meet
eligibility criteria - but only if they apply by March 2.

“Unfortunately, money goes unclaimed every year because students
don’t bother to file the forms that could get them free cash for
college,” said Diana Ralls, UC Merced’s director of financial aid.

But a visit to the
Financial Aid
will pay off, because all the information students need
to file forms online is there, from the FAFSA to CalGrants, Pell
Grants and scholarships.

There’s also a section about the Cash for College workshops,
sponsored by the California Commission for Student Aid, held at
nearly every area high school on various dates. UC Merced’s
Financial Aid Web site has information for parents, new students,
transfer and graduate students, grants, scholarships, loans and
work-study programs.

“But you can’t get money if you don’t apply,” Ralls said.
“That’s the most important part.” There’s also a section of
frequently asked questions on the Web site, dealing with such
topics as when and how to apply, grades, eligibility, admissions,
family contributions and transferring financial aid from one school
to another.

Ralls said if people still have questions after checking out the
Web site, they should call the UC Merced Financial Aid Office at
(209) 228-4243 or e-mail

The state of California also has
financial aid

There’s a section for students and parents, and details about
grades, new laws and changes to the financial aid rules, tips for
applying and even a section on whether an offer is a scam or a scholarship.

Even though students have until March 2, it’s better not to wait
to file the FAFSA, because it is the starting point for all
financial aid options.

“Starting now will help parents and students sort through all
the information that’s coming at them,” Ralls said. “We’re here to
help make college accessible to everyone.”