Taxes, FAFSA and scholarships: One thing at a time, please!

By Jessica Vaysberg

With tax season just passing, students have begun to discover a problem with the Federal Application for Student Aid deadline in comparison to tax and scholarship due dates.

The Stout Foundation Scholarship requires that students fill out the FAFSA by Feb. 15 in order to be considered for need-based scholarships.

“The problem with this is that the due date is too early,” said Esuvat Mollel, director of diversity for the Stout Student Association. “Taxes are not due until April and the actual FAFSA is not due until mid-March. This deadline is asking parents and students to do their taxes way in advance. This may hinder students from completing the FAFSA and, therefore, not qualify for need-based scholarships in order to stay at or even begin attending the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

Students on campus agree that this clash of deadlines needs to be fixed.

“Last year I had to leave information out because I didn’t have all of the tax information,” said UW–Stout sophomore Keaton Van’t Hull. “This year I had to ask my parents to expedite their taxes to get them on time. One time, I missed the deadline and had to go through a bunch of processes to get it to the school. I’ve also noticed that many scholarship applications are due before you can get proper tax information.”

Not every student at UW–Stout has concerns with this issue.

“I have never had a problem with the timeline for getting my FAFSA completed,” said graduate student James Arenz. “I complete it as soon as I can. However, I am considered independent. I do not have to wait for my parents to file taxes.”

The school is currently deciding whether to change these deadlines to better suit the needs of students.

“After realizing that this is a concern for students I brought the issue up to the Diversity Leadership Team, a committee composed of faculty and staff who work on campus wide issues relating to diversity,” said Mollel. “The members agreed that it was an issue, and Dean of Students Joan Thomas said that she would bring the issue up at the next Scholarship Committee meeting and see if there is a way to change the deadline.”

“I think the school should change the scholarship deadlines because there’s usually a hierarchy of due dates,” said Van’t Hull. “I assumed the scholarships would be due after the FAFSA, seeing as that has to be done first, but when I checked the deadline it had already passed and I had only just received tax information. Changing the deadline would help students be able to worry about things one at a time. Otherwise things are jumbled, overlapping and confusing. Maybe next year I can get my info early enough to actually apply for the scholarships offered.”

Mollel is waiting to hear what the Scholarship Committee will say.

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