By Cathy Maschmeyer

From FAFSA to Loans: Financial Aid Advice You Need

Financial aid helps students pursue their dreams of getting to college, but it can be stressful for students and their families if they’re not familiar with the processes, deadlines and types of aid. Behind the forms and the applications, there are people ready to be a resource and support system for students.

At Mizzou, one of those people is Cynthia Travis. Cynthia is the Senior Assistant Director of Strategic Outreach and Initiatives in the Student Financial Aid office. Her job is to walk students through the financial aid process, help students be proactive and talk through solutions. Cynthia is ready to share what she has learned in more than 15 years of helping students and families.

Student loans are an investment in your future.

Loans can feel scary, but Cynthia wants students and their families to see them as investments in the future. She advises, “Take out the smallest loans possible, but if you need loans, it’s not a bad thing.” Mizzou graduates make an average of $25,000 more per year than Missouri high school graduates, so maximizing loans (private and federal) can open doors for students to find success both at Mizzou and in their future careers.

Details (and deadlines) matter.

When it comes to financial aid, meeting a deadline and paying attention to details can change everything. Even if you think you don’t qualify for federal aid, filing your FAFSA by the priority deadline can make a difference in state funding too. For instance, only students who complete the FAFSA by the published priority deadline receive the Missouri Land Grant or the MU Grant. Don’t miss out on support by missing a deadline. File your FAFSA this year by Feb. 1 to make sure you’re receiving everything you are eligible for.


Additionally, details like your grades and course schedule matter too. Discuss with Financial Aid before you drop a course to avoid changes in funding. If you lose your full-time status, your financial aid package will be impacted.

Always submit the FAFSA. No matter what.

Always filing the FAFSA, no matter what, opens up funding possibilities that you may not realize you qualify for. Cynthia recalls, “One student filed FAFSA for the first time and had no clue they were Pell Grant eligible. They had missed out on thousands of dollars.” If you don’t know what information you need or how to answer the questions, make an appointment with Student Financial Aid!


Additionally, Cynthia stated, “Life happens to students and families. You just don’t know what life is going to throw at you.” If something changes in your family life, and you have a FAFSA on file, the experts can quickly pivot and help find funds that meet you where you are.

What You Need to Know: FAFSA is Changing

The FAFSA is getting a makeover. Plan to file the FAFSA between January 1 and our priority deadline of February 1. Start talking to your family and your advisor now to make sure you are prepared.

Questions? Reach out to Student Financial Aid.

Reach out to Student Financial Aid.

Student Financial Aid has resources available to students to be proactive about their funding. Resources like webinars and drop-in sessions educate Tigers early on about the process and what they may need.


However, the most important resource is the Financial Aid Advisors themselves. Cynthia said, “Don’t wait until the end. Come early if you feel concerned and let us see how we can help you out.” By making a connection with your advisor, problems with financial aid can be avoided. In the end, staff members want to help students succeed.

Apply to scholarships like it’s your job.

Scholarships can help round out your financial package and pay for important resources. Between university-sponsored scholarships, private scholarships and state-funded scholarships – options are out there. Even small amounts can add up quickly. You can find scholarships for any of the following:

  • Hobbies
  • Majors
  • Community Service


Don’t know where to start? Mizzou’s ScholarshipUniverse is a great resource to find scholarships you qualify for.

Resource Highlight: ScholarshipUniverse

Scholarships are just a click away with ScholarshipUniverse. Every scholarship available to Mizzou students, besides automatic and competitive awards, comes through this portal. It works by matching you to the scholarships that most fit you. The more questions you answer, the more likely you are to fit the requirements of scholarships.

Even if you don’t receive any the first year, don’t quit. Applying every year allows you to receive scholarships that are for continuing students in your major or extracurricular activities.

The portal is currently open for the 2024-25 year. Deadline to apply to all scholarships is Feb. 1.