Millions of dollars in FAFSA pell grants untouched, group says

Updated: Sep. 30, 2019 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - High school seniors will begin completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Tuesday when the applications become available. But one group called Alabama Possible said Alabama seniors have been missing out on this “free” money.

“Each year Alabama families leave tens of millions of dollars on the table in free money that’s available to pay for college," said Kristina Scott, who is the executive director for Alabama Possible.

Scott explained that students either don’t fill out the financial aid form at all because they do not believe they will get money or they fill it out after their college’s priority financial aid deadline. She said 60 percent of Alabama high school seniors will qualify for a Pell Grant.

The average Pell grant given last year to an Alabama student was about $4,000. Scott said total pell grants left on the table in 2018 hit about $47 million.

Two Montgomery high school seniors have dreams of attending universities and working in the medical field. Both plan to fill out the FAFSA.

Jalyn Earvin wants to work in the emergency room after her experiences as a student athlete.

“Seeing people getting hit, hurt, and also being injured very seriously it made me think that I need to help them. I need to be there for them," Earvin said.

But she realizes her dream comes with a hefty cost.

“I don’t want to get halfway through college and have to drop out of it because I don’t have enough money to pay for it," she said.

Senior Mariah Miles wants to be a pharmacist.

“Every time I go to CVS I look into the pharmacy and go ‘Oh what are they doing?’ It’s something that really interests me," Miles said.

Miles has already researched the FAFSA deadlines and said she plans to fill it out as soon as the application is available.

“I also don’t want to pay so much for college and my parents," Miles said. "They did so much for me so I want to work really hard to make sure I get every opportunity possible.”

Seniors can begin filling out the FAFSA Friday online.

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