Beginning Tuesday, students can now apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FAFSA is a way for students to apply for multiple federal grants and loans, including work study programs, with one application.

“The FAFSA drives everything. We don’t know anything about you until you do a FAFSA,” said Michelle Rodriguez, manager of Orange Coast College’s Financial Aid office.

Rodriguez said that this year specially trained staff will be on campus approaching students asking if they applied for financial aid.  They will also be able to help access the application through the myStudentAid mobile app.  

“You put the app on your phone and you can literally fill out your FAFSA and it’s simple,” Rodriguez said.

Many factors influence financial aid eligibility and the amount of assistance a student can receive. Navigating the complexities can seem daunting. Rodriguez’ office offers workshops, events, tools and other resources to help students tackle the tasks and meet critical deadlines.

Applications can be submitted through June 1 but for priority consideration, the deadline to apply is March 2.

“The biggest thing that happens is that students don’t meet the March 2 deadline date,” Rodriguez said.  She encourages students to take advantage by using all of the support that’s offered.  

Federal data indicates that one of the biggest misconceptions is students who assume their parents’ income is too high and don’t bother to apply for financial aid.  But students are always encouraged to apply, regardless. Officials said that besides income, household size and other factors go into the formula that determines need.

OCC student Ryan Montis, a 22-year-old engineering major followed that advice.  

“I apply every year,” he said.  Although he didn’t receive assistance last year, Montis’ said his expected family contribution (EFC) will be significantly changed this year, after his single parent recently lost a job. 

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