Fill out your FAFSA now to increase your chances of getting financial aid

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Young people across the country are gearing up this week for spooky Halloween celebrations.

But college enrollment and financial aid administrators are more frightened by the response of college students to another annual October event: the opening of the free app for federal student aid, or FAFSA.

Students must complete the FAFSA to access need-based aid at colleges and universities in the United States, including Pell Scholarships, Federal Direct Student Loans, and Co-op.

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The application period for the 2022-2023 academic year opened on October 1 and ends on June 30, 2023. The earlier you complete the FAFSA, the better; states and schools have limited help to offer, and some offer it on a first come, first served basis. You also have a better chance of securing federal, state, and university grants if you file early.

Unfortunately, the first data is not encouraging. As of Oct. 8, FAFSA completions were down 29% from the same period last year, according to the National College Attainment Network (NCAN).

Of course, it’s far too early to know how the numbers will play out. But educators are worried they don’t want to repeat last year, when the high school class of 2021 finished 4.8% less FAFSA than the class of 2020 – about 102,000 younger people. When you consider both the 2021 and 2020 classes, over 250,000 fewer seniors completed an FAFSA than expected.

Why? The pandemic has undoubtedly played a huge role. Usually high school counselors and teachers are there to remind students to fill out the forms. With many students and teachers in distance learning situations and counselors focused on student mental and emotional well-being, these interactions were less likely to occur.

NCAN found that FAFSA completion was lowest in schools with a greater concentration of students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Many of these students would be the first in their families to attend college, making them less likely to have parents familiar with the FAFSA. And with many schools closed, some students did not have easy access to a computer and / or the Internet to complete the form.

Even in a “normal” year, completing the FAFSA can be intimidating. The process has gotten a little easier over the past few years with the introduction of a mobile app and the ability to import your tax data directly from the Internal Revenue Service into the FAFSA at https: // studentaid .gov / resources / irs-drt -text.

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You can save time by gathering the necessary documents before you begin, including your Social Security number, W-2 forms from previous two years, a record of any untaxed income for the previous two years, and documentation of all scholarships, grants or income from studies. .

The FAFSA 2022-2023 uses financial information from 2020. If your family’s financial situation has changed since then – perhaps a parent has lost their job due to the pandemic – you need to complete the FAFSA, then contact the financial aid office of the school you are planning. to participate; they can adjust your financial assistance to reflect your family’s current income.

Also note: If your family has an above-average income, you can ignore the FAFSA, assuming you won’t qualify for any help. No. Some schools, businesses, or organizations that offer merit-based scholarships also want FAFSA information, and if you haven’t filed, you might be missing out.

Now that the high schools have reopened, the counselors are here to provide FAFSA assistance to students and families and help them afford the college of their dreams.

A Bellarmine education is more affordable than most people think, with 100% of freshmen receiving some form of scholarship from college. We will also match the current direct tuition fees of the state’s flagship university of eligible students as part of our public price pledge – provided they complete the FAFSA!

You can determine what your actual costs will be at Bellarmine or other universities by using a Net Price Calculator, an online tool that allows you to enter information about yourself to find out what students like you have paid to attend one. establishment the previous year, after obtaining scholarships. and scholarship aid into account. All Title IV institutions that enroll full-time undergraduate students seeking a degree or certificate are required to have a CNP on their site. You can find Bellarmine at https://www.bellarmine.edu/financial-aid/calculators/.

No matter what college or university you are considering, ask for help if you need it and complete this FAFSA! Without it you are leaving potential money on the table and it’s really scary.

Dr. Michael Marshall is Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing and Communications at Bellarmine University in Louisville.

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