Thousands of students who do not receive college grants, looking to study

A new analysis shows that hundreds of thousands of students are missing out on their chance to get a free college grant because they don’t complete a nasty federal form known as the Fafsa.

Approximately 1.7 million high school graduates did not apply for free Federal Student Aid during the 2020-21 school year. Follow a report by the National College Outcomes Network, a nonprofit group that works on behalf of minority and low-income students. The average grant, which does not need to be repaid, would be close to $4,500.

All told, the high school class of 2021 has left an estimated $3.7 billion in Pell Grants unclaimed due to non-submission, the network showed. It said the number of students submitting Fafsa had decreased during the pandemic.

Fafsa is the portal for most types of financial aid for college students and must be submitted annually. The federal government uses this form to determine if a student is eligible for financial aid, including Pell Grants. (Many states and colleges also award their grants based on Fafsa.) Schools with high concentrations of low-income students and students of color consistently have lower Fafsa completion rates, networks. said.

Kim Cook, the network’s chief executive officer, said students who complete Fafsa are more likely to go to college than those who don’t, so it’s frustrating that the number of students who apply for Fafsa has dropped.

As school districts move to virtual classrooms during the 2020-21 school year to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many schools have been unable to hold traditional helpdesk sessions to guide students and families in completing forms. . Just over half (53%) of students in the class of 2021 completed Fafsa in the summer, down from about 56% in 2020, the network estimates. Schools with a high concentration of low-income students and students of color have fallen further.

Ms Cook said: “Class of 2021 has been disconnected from support. “Some students don’t even know there’s federal student aid.”

Other studies have also raised concerns about Fafsa. ONE survey last year by EAB, an educational consulting firm, found that low-income and first-generation students were more likely to have difficulty filling out forms and getting help gathering tax documents and information. other necessary. Brett Schraeder, executive director of financial aid optimization at EAB, said students often don’t fill out forms because they think they won’t be eligible for aid.

The federal government recently passed legislation to reduce the number of questions on Fafsa and simplify the form, but the changes won’t go into full effect until the 2024-25 school year.

Several states, including Louisiana, have made Fafsa submission a graduation requirement for high school students to help improve completion rates.

Ms. Cook’s network is encouraging school districts to use some of the funds they receive from the federal pandemic relief program to expand support for post-secondary preparedness, including assistance with completion of the program. the Fafsa program.

Here are some questions and answers about Fafsa and student support:

The maximum grant is set by Congress and is currently $6,495. Not all eligible students receive the full amount; that depends on the financial details reported in the Fafsa and other factors, like the tuition fees of the school they are attending. Law Waiting in Congress would double the maximum amount and expand eligibility for grants, but its outcome is uncertain.

Most schools are reverting to face-to-face learning and counselors will be more available, although many have heavy workloads, Ms. Cook said. “Go out and ask for a consultant,” she says.

Some schools are working with community groups to help students prepare for college. One goal, a nonprofit group with programs in Illinois and several other states, works with schools to help them expand in-school instruction for students about post-secondary planning. Classes are taught by school staff with the assistance of a OneGoal coach, often including help with Fafsa preparation.

Mr. Schraeder with the EAB said the federal Office of Student Aid has helpful information on its website, including YouTube channel with videos that guide you through the process.

Each year, a new Fafsa will be available October 1 for the following school year and can be submitted until June 30 after the applicable school year ends. (For example, the form for the 2022-23 school year, opens October 1, 2021, and can be submitted until June 30, 2023.)

It is best to submit the form as soon as possible once it is available. Some states set earlier priority deadlines for their own aid and scholarship allocations to students, so applying early increases your chances of maximizing aid.

But when it comes to Pell Grants, Mr. Schraeder said, students can apply at any time. Students often assume that if they miss the state priority deadline, it’s not worth bothering with. But that’s not the case with Pell Grants, if you qualify. You can apply for a Fafsa for the current school year until the end of June. If you haven’t applied for the current school year, he said, you may be depriving yourself of your cash aid. “It’s not too late for this year yet,” he said.

Maybe even after the priority period expires, there may still be some state or institutional aid, he said, so it’s worth applying. The worst case scenario is that the school may tell you there is no money. However, he said, it also “tells students that next year they can qualify if they act faster.” Thousands of students who do not receive college grants, looking to study

Fry Electronics Team

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