UD Financial Aid incentivizes FAFSA with prizes

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Photo by Patrick Goodman

What are a UD student’s favorite things to complain about? Communism? The Texas heat? Housing and dorm options? Tuition prices? 

This past week Financial Aid’s FAFSA raffle provided students a chance to try to remedy the last two complaints. In an email sent to the student body, prizes of bookstore gift cards, Winter Cotillion tickets, and even priority housing were offered for completing the FAFSA no later than Oct 3. 

Taryn Anderson from the Office of Financial Aid explained that the FAFSA allows the University of Dallas to determine the amount of financial aid for which students qualify. The aid includes both federal and state help, as well as grants, loans, work-study and some scholarships offered by UD. 

Oct. 1 marked the opening of FAFSA for next fall. Students can apply anytime throughout the year but Jan. 15 is UD’s priority deadline. 

Applying as early as possible is beneficial to everyone involved, as it allows financial aid to be distributed sooner, which can help students to plan ahead. 

At UD, the Jan.15 deadline is the cutoff for students to receive work-study opportunities. Although each state has its own deadline for financial aid, Texas operates on a first-come, first-served basis, giving students another reason to apply as early as possible. 

“Twenty-seven students have already done their FAFSA and shown it to us and are entered into the raffle,” said Anderson. “So I feel like that’s … fairly successful. We’ve gotten that many students that talked to their parents that went online one night this week and [filled out an application].”

Anderson said that approximately 70% of students at UD fill out a FAFSA. While the raffle encouraged some early applications, there are many more who will still apply. 

Sophomore Suzanne Robertson said that completing the FAFSA wouldn’t become a priority “until the actual priority deadline, which I think is Jan. 15 … I wanted to do the raffle, but I wasn’t stressed about it, because … I don’t have to get it done right now.”

While working within a limited budget, the prizes were chosen based on student feedback. Along with purchasing three bookstore gift cards and five Cap Bar tickets, the Financial Aid Office reached out to partner with Student Affairs who provided Winter Cotillion tickets, and priority housing for one student moving into in Clark Hall.

Housing priority is typically chosen based on the number of credits held by a student. 

“[The prize] would allow the student to jump to be at the front of their class line,” said Anderson “For Clark Hall, they will be one of the first people to get to choose what kind of room they want.” 

With limited space in the student apartments, which houses about 115 students according to an email from Student Affairs, and strict restrictions for those wishing to live off-campus, students can find it difficult to get the housing they want.

With changes in class size come changes in how housing options are utilized. 

This summer, for example, some students expecting to live in Clark Hall this academic year were alerted by Betty Perretta via email that Clark Hall had reached capacity for women and O’Connell Hall was being changed to an “all-female continuing student hall for the upcoming year.”  

One student who was faced with this situation is sophomore Gretta Klein, who said “I understand why we were put in O’Connell because of the overflow of girls in the dorms and the new freshman class having a majority of girls and it’s just hard to put us into Clark but it also is just unfortunate to have to be put into a dorm across campus from all the other upperclassmen.” 

By the time the raffle ended at 2 p.m. on Oct. 3, 31 students had been entered in the raffle. Eighteen of those students were notified on Friday that they had received a prize. Anderson said that the priority housing would be given to a freshman winner, who will have a secured place in Clark for the next school year and will not have to worry about possibly being put on a waitlist.

Although the raffle is over, students can still fill out the FAFSA, and the Office of Financial Aid recommends students do so before Jan. 15. 

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