Located inside the Financial Aid office at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, is a sign to remind students that the new FAFSA is available. FAFSA has been open since October 1 and will close Feb 1.

As all people are aware, education comes at a high cost. FAFSA and scholarships are vital components of a student's financial opportunities and are no light matter. Both can assist students tremendously and provide some assistance during their education. 


“College is expensive, it just is and that is a reality,” stated Cindy Conrad, director of financial aid at Missouri Western State University.


Conrad explained the fundamental goals of FAFSA and offered students valuable information regarding the application. 


“FAFSA is an application that students are able to complete, and it will basically give us a calculation of how much aid they’re eligible for," Conrad said. "When you do your FAFSA, you’re applying for federal and sometimes state aid. You need your FAFSA to qualify for pell grants, federal work-study, federal student loans.”


Conrad went on to explain why FAFSA is so vital to students.


"It is very important for students to maximize their aid to get as much of that free money or those low-interest student loans that they can in order to meet those expenses," Conrad said. "But it is very important even if students think they don’t qualify. I would highly recommend that we go ahead and do that FAFSA and just see. You don’t know until you try.”


The Missouri FAFSA deadline is Feb. 1, 2023, and has been open since Oct. 1, 2022. To qualify for the most financial aid opportunity, students must complete the FAFSA information by the deadline. 


To complete the FAFSA, the FSA ID of the student, the student's parents and tax information from the prior year will be necessary.


Scholarships are also open, and students can apply for them. Even if it only saves students from out-of-pocket expenses on textbooks, it is worth the application. 


Nick Sutton, the financial aid coordinator at Missouri Western State University, shared what he has learned with students applying for scholarships. 


“A lot of students don’t apply for them because they’re not eligible," Sutton said. "And it might come the time where scholarship funds aren’t being used because no one applied for it. I would always recommend that they apply for those scholarships, and the private donor scholarships section of our website, even if they don’t meet the priority deadline for our general scholarships.” 


However, the financial aid office understands that scholarships can be a little overwhelming, and students may not know where to start or how to ensure a good chance of receiving the scholarship. Conrad shared a few of her tips on applying for scholarships and how to have successful essays. 


“Always have someone proofread your application," Conrad said. "You always want someone to read your scholarship application who maybe knows you. A lot of people sell themselves short or they don’t tell the whole story of themselves and what they want to be or who they want to be. I think the people who take the time to do that are the students selected for scholarships.”


Students can find FAFSA and scholarship application forms on the Missouri Western State University financial aid website. The financial aid office encourages students to take advantage of these financial assistance opportunities.

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