Students Encouraged to Submit Financial Aid Application by March 2

Free Application for Federal Student Aid a Requirement for Most Awards

MERCED, CA — March 2, 2005 should be a red-letter day for students who have applied for undergraduate admission to the University of California, Merced. That is the deadline to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form for Cal Grants and most forms of financial aid at UC Merced for the 2005-06 academic year.

Prospective freshman and transfer students must file the FAFSA in order to be considered for all types of financial aid obtainable at the University of California.

"We encourage every UC Merced applicant to complete the FAFSA," says Diana Ralls, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. "Students should not automatically count themselves out before they apply. Even if they think they won't meet the criteria for need-based assistance, it's smart to file the FAFSA. On average, more than two-thirds of all UC students qualify for some kind of financial assistance."

In the San Joaquin Valley, where students have traditionally enrolled at UC campuses at half the rate of the state average, financial assistance is a particularly important key to increasing access. Currently, however, many students are missing out on the opportunity to take advantage of funds available to help pay the costs of a university education. A recent report by the Central Valley Higher Education indicates that only 28 percent of students in the region who qualify for Cal Grants even submit an application.

At UC Merced, students who submit the FAFSA and meet eligibility requirements may apply for several types of financial aid, including Stafford and other federal loans; scholarships; and university, state and federal grants. Fellowships, teaching assistantships and student research positions also are available for graduate students.

All students applying for financial aid at UC Merced must enter UC Davis' Federal School Code of 001313 on their FAFSA. A formal relationship with UC Davis allows the new UC campus to share the Federal School Code.

To be eligible for Cal Grants, students applying for undergraduate admission must file the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form, as well as the FAFSA, by March 2, 2005. The California Student Aid Commission offers the opportunity for all students who are California residents to apply for a Cal Grant to help cover their undergraduate tuition and/or fees at a California university or college. Cal Grants often provide students with one of their largest sources of financial support, according to Ralls.

Students can submit the FAFSA after March 2 and will be considered for financial aid resources that remain. However, Ralls strongly suggests that students to apply early to increase their prospects of getting the funds they need.

UC Merced will begin to process applications following the FAFSA/Cal Grant GPA Verification Form deadline and after students are notified of their admission decision.

Additional information about the FAFSA and about applying for financial aid at UC Merced is available by calling the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at (209) 724-4384 or sending an e-mail to finaid@ucmerced.edu. The online FAFSA application is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Prospective graduate students also are encouraged to contact the UC Merced Graduate Division at (209) 724-4429 to learn more about options for financing their education.

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