By Carolynn Bright
Kids Count 

Don't Forget FAFSA

 


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) season is here and nonprofit Student Assistance Foundation encourages all Montanans who want to pursue postsecondary education in the upcoming academic year to complete this form.

With the nation-wide concern about student debt, it’s important to emphasize that the FAFSA isn’t all about student loans. Instead, it is about access to a wide range of education funding opportunities.

Students and families who complete the FAFSA open doors to about $150 billion in different forms of federal student aid including grants, loans and work-study funds. In addition, many states and institutions use information from the FAFSA to deliver non-federal aid.

The closer to the priority filing dates in Montana that students and families are able to file their FAFSA, the better their opportunity to receive the funding they need to bridge the gap to pay for their postsecondary education. At most Montana schools, that date is March 1. At the University of Montana, that date is Feb. 15.


Unfortunately, only 30 percent of Montana students had completed their FAFSAs by March 1 last year. SAF believes we can do better.

By raising awareness of the FAFSA, and providing students and families with the help they need to complete the form at events like College Goal Montana, we strive to accomplish this.

In addition, we work hard to dispel the myths that surround the FAFSA like, “My parents make too much money,” or “The FAFSA is too complicated to fill out.”

Considering that studies show 62 percent of all Montana jobs will require a higher education by 2018, it becomes clearer that the FAFSA is, indeed, for everyone, and that postsecondary education should be considered an investment.

Through a combination of saving, scholarship seeking, and responsible borrowing, Montanans can build an educated work force to take our state successfully into the future.

Montana financial aid professionals estimate that it takes most families about 45 minutes to complete the FAFSA. The result may mean the difference between going to college or not.

Can your family afford not to complete the FAFSA? At SAF, we don’t think so.

Carolynn Bright is Communications Director for Student Assistance Foundation.

 

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