FAT Tuesday comes to financial aid

With nearly 25,000 students at USF receiving some type of financial aid, the lines are expected to be long. That is why the financial aid office wants to shorten students’ waiting time.

Today, financial aid is having Financial Aid Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in SVC 1102. Financial aid guarantees to process the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications by March 31 if students are registered with OASIS, bring in their applications and have their pin number.

Joyce Engelhardt, program assistant for financial aid, said the office is already working on the 2002-03 school year. The financial aid process usually takes 6-8 weeks, depending on how quickly the information is returned to the office.

Sometimes results are returned quicker based on whether the student is considered dependent or independent. Dependent students have tax returns to bring in, while independent students do not.

“We encourage the students to get their paperwork in quickly to avoid the rush,” Engelhardt said.

Nate Brink, graduate assistant for financial aid, said once students mail their forms, they go to the federal processor who reviews the application information. Then it is sent back electronically to USF, which takes at least two weeks. Students who register on the Web may receive a faster return.

Brink said students who attend FAT Tuesday will be put on a high-priority list to get the paperwork processed by the March 31 deadline. If the forms are not completed correctly, they will be sent back to the student, which can delay the process.

Brink said the paperwork ensures that if problems arise, there will be plenty of time to fix them.

“FAT Tuesday is a good way to bring students in and get the process done early. Often we get documents in late, weeks and months later, and that just makes things worse,” Brink said, “By getting everything in early, this helps the students out and helps us out, too.”

Brink said financial aid has already participated in two events at Patio Tuesday with success. More events are tentatively scheduled for March 19 and April 20.

Financial aid has been promoting FAT Tuesday with handouts and flyers to acclimate themselves with students on campus.

“Financial aid is out of the student loop, and we want to be more active in the student life at USF,” Brink said.