Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Advising Advice: Financial Aid Season in Full Swing

Posted on February 08, 2016 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Co-written by Daniel Barton, Academic Advisor, and by Nancy Varin, and Elizabeth Sarazin, Financial Aid Counselors

January kicks off not only the start of a new year and a new semester, but also the start of the college financial aid season. Each year students are encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial aid eligibility for the following school year. Here are a few simple tips:

Create your FSA ID

If you have not yet created a new Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to log in to the FAFSA and other Department of Education websites, you will need to do so before filing the FAFSA.  If you are required to use parent information on the FAFSA, the parent who is signing the FAFSA will also need to make an FSA ID.

File your FAFSA!

Remember to file your FAFSA at by USM priority deadline of February 15, 2016. Submitting by this date will provide the best financial aid package possible for the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year at USM.  The FAFSA became available on January 1, 2016.  

The first time you complete a FAFSA for the next academic year, it is helpful to have a copy of your most recent tax return handy to assist you in filling out the financial section.  If your 2015 taxes have not been filed yet – that’s okay!  Put in your best guess now and later you can update the FAFSA when 2015 taxes have been processed by the IRS.  Once the IRS has finished processing your 2015 taxes, make a correction to your FAFSA and use the electronic IRS Data Retrieval process to upload your tax information into the FAFSA.  Then re-sign and re-submit the FAFSA so the updated information is sent to USM.  

For more information about the financial aid application process, check out the information on our Student Financial Services website at .  Under “Resources” we have made some videos from the federal government available that may help with creating the FSA ID and filling out your FAFSA.  Please always  feel free to contact Student Financial Services at 207-780-5250 if you have questions.

Apply for Scholarships:  

Scholarships are a form of financial aid that provide students free money to use toward educational expenses. Scholarship applications often require a simple application in addition to an essay,  letters of recommendation, or a copy of a student’s Student Aid Report (SAR).  Prior to applying to a scholarship, it is important to read through the eligibility requirements to ensure you meet their qualifications. Watch deadlines to ensure you submit your application on time!

A great place to start your scholarship search is right here at USM. USM launched a new scholarship site on their website (  highlighting $5 million dollars in scholarships for first year, continuing, transfer and adult students. The general eligibility for each scholarship is provided as well as the deadline.  External sources like the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) also provide information regarding organizations that offer scholarships.  


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