2020 seemed to start off on the wrong foot because of the US-Iran crisis which left many of us with questions and concerns.
Twitter users raised concerns about an impending “World War III” and the possibilities of a potential military draft due to rising tensions between the United Stated and Iran.
After the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the U.S. Air Force, many Twitter users learned how applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) contributes to their role in future military services.
UNO Biology major Mary Ann Awsiukiewicz said when she signed up for FAFSA, she also signed up for selective services.
“I think it is appalling that our government would expect students to leave their education to perform selective service regardless of the money the student is receiving from the government,” Awsiukiewicz said. “Receiving aid should not equate consent to selective service.”
Learning the link between Selective Services and FAFSA is new to me, as it may be to all of you. Scrolling through Twitter, I like to make a few nihilistic jokes about the ‘end of the world as we know it’ but it raises the question of what else we should know about FAFSA.
Online memes and sardonic jokes aside, learning more information about FAFSA will hopefully not only clear some misconceptions about FAFSA and Selective Service, but also provide important details before renewing or applying for the 2020-2021 FAFSA.
Registering with Selective Services does not mean you’re automatically drafted
Men must register with Selective Services within 30 days of their 18th birthday, according to the Selective Services website.
“In order to receive federal financial aid, males ages 18-25 must register with the Selective Service System,” said Associate Director for UNO Office of Financial Support and Scholarships Daniel McGinnis. “Registering with the Selective Service System does not mean you will automatically be inducted into the military.”
In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in a sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth, according to the Selective Services website. They would also be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.
Submit your FAFSA early before the priority deadline
UNO has an April 1, 2020 priority deadline for submitting the 2020-2021 FAFSA. It’s best to consider submitting your FAFSA earlier before the official date.
“Applying early ensures you are awarded your maximum financial aid eligibility, avoiding processing delays and allows plenty of time to have the FAFSA processed for timely disbursement,” McGinnis said. “You can still submit your 2020-2021 FAFSA after the April 1, 2020 priority deadline, however, there is no guarantee that you will be awarded additional grant aid. Awards after this date are a first-come, first-served basis.”
The 2020-2021 FAFSA requires your 2018 tax information
The 2020-2021 FAFSA uses 2018 tax information, so there is no need to wait to file your FAFSA since taxes are already filed, McGinnis said.
McGinnis also said part of the FAFSA application process determines your dependency status. If you are considered a dependent student, parental information is requited additionally. You will also answer a series of questions regarding untaxed income received, as well as additional financial information
Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool helps make the application process faster
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) electronically transfers your federal tax return information into your FAFSA form without having to manually type it in, allowing for quicker completion.
“The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents who filed a U.S. tax return with the IRS to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA,” McGinnis said.
To learn how you can utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, check out the Student Aid website.
With more attention drawn to FAFSA in regards of the Selective Services requirement, it’s also important for students to know about FAFSA and the process towards receiving financial aid.
Biology major Mary Ann Awsiukiewicz had frustrating experiences completing her FAFSA.
“I’ve always had difficulty filling the forms out and electronically signing them,” Awsiukiewicz said. “It almost feels like it’s intentionally difficult in order to discourage people from applying.”
McGinnis said many students feel that they are not eligible for federal financial aid or see that the Office of Financial Support as a barrier to obtaining funding.
“We have staff available to answer your financial aid questions and assist you throughout the process. If you need help completing your FAFSA, you can get free help by making an appointment with EducationQuest Foundation.” McGinnis said.
It is important to check your MavLINK account and UNO email for requests and updates regarding financial aid throughout the year. McGinnis encouraged students to not be afraid of contacting the UNO Office of Financial Support if there are changes to your enrollment status.
“When in doubt, be sure to communicate with our office,” McGinnis said. “We would rather answer your question than not answer it at all.”
McGinnis said it’s never too late to apply for the scholarships offered this year.
“Most scholarships have a March 1 application deadline,” McGinnis said. “The scholarship application can be accessed through the Financial Aid menu on MavLINK and is the application for all campus-wide scholarships, including departmental and NU Foundation scholarships.”
It can be difficult returning to a new school year dealing with uncertainty and uneasiness during the US-Iran crisis. Hopefully by learning more about FAFSA will take away concerns of the unknown and educate more about what it does for students.