COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Financial aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year are open, and staffers at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs say they're bracing for an influx of students needing aid next year as a result of the pandemic.
However, money could run out.
More than $10,000 of free money is at stake for students who qualify as "priority need." With more families falling under that category as a result of the pandemic, that money is expected to go quick.
Officials at the UCCS financial aid office say they're still helping families keep their kids enrolled this school year alone.
"We had an uptick of 13% of appeals just over what families have gone through the past six months", says Jevita R. Rogers, Senior Executive Director for the UCCS Office of Financial Aid. "If they were furloughed or laid off, those kinds of changes in income, we take into account. "
Jared Verner, a spokesperson for UCCS, says enrollment is down 4% from 2019.
The university hopes more students don't fall through the cracks because of finances, especially when programs like the Colorado Student Program exist.
About $10,000,000 in grant money is available to in-state students enrolling in the 2021-2022 school year courtesy of the program; but time is of the essence.
"The earlier you file, the earlier you're on the list," says Rogers. "Once it's gone, we have nothing else to offer a student who would otherwise be eligible."
Families' 2019 tax information will still be used to determine their aid for the 2021-2022 school year, but 2020 documents will be essential to maximizing student aid.
"You don't know what you're going to qualify for until you apply," says Rogers. "If you don't ask, the answer is always no"
To qualify for priority aid, UCCS officials say students need to apply by March 1.
The FAFSA application will also determine scholarship eligibility, which is also is very limited amount of money.