MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - If you’re a parent with a child preparing for college - or have a student in college - we don’t have to remind you how costly a post-secondary education can be. Tuition costs can quickly tick up thousands of dollars, but there are financial aid options available to help - including FAFSA.
“It’s the form Forbes and The Wall Street Journal say every family should fill out when they’re talking about how to pay for education after high school,” said Kristina Scott, Executive Director of Alabama Possible.
FAFSA, The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form that helps families determine options for financial assistance for college. The application process officially opened Oct. 1.
“Most Alabama high school seniors will qualify for a Pell Grant and that could be up to $6,195, and they may qualify for on campus jobs or work study jobs,” said Scott, "or loans when they need them.”
And knowing how much your child could get in federal aid helps you better plan how much college costs will come out your own budget.
“We try to encourage our students to fill out that FAFSA as soon as possible so that they can actually get a clear scope of their financial standing and what it’s going to look like as far as the costs to go to their dream school,” said Cayla Hudson, Guidance Aide, Booker T. Washington High School.
Cayla Hudson, guidance aide at Booker T. Washington High School, says the vast majority of her senior students complete the FAFSA form. It’s helped them not just get federal dollars, but scholarship money from schools.
“Last year our students reached the millions in terms of scholarship money that they received,” said Hudson, “Our students are submitting our FAFSAs and schools are seeing that and they award accordingly.”
The FAFSA is not just to get money for a 4-year university, it is also for 2-year colleges and technical education programs. It also applies for schools in and out of state.
While millions take advantage of the financial assistance offered by FAFSA - others don’t and free money goes to waste.
According to NerdWallet, in 2017, over $2.3 billion was left on the table in free federal grant money. It’s from students not renewing their FAFSA form throughout college or in graduate school.
You can fill out the FAFSA application online at www.fafsa.gov. You can also fill out the application on the “My Student Aid” app on your phone.
You will need the student’s permanent address, birthday, and social security number along with the parents' permanent address, birthday, and social security numbers and the address where you filed your 2017 tax returns.
For help filling out your FAFSA Application, the nonprofit Alabama Possible is hosting a Facebook Live tutorial. It’s part of their Cash for College campaign to get people signed up for FAFSA. It will be Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. on their Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/2242092769369355/.