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Seniors fasten their FAFSA seatbelts

Diane+Gonzaelz+portryas+seniors+as+they+complete+their+FASFA+application+online.
Diane Gonzaelz portryas seniors as they complete their FASFA application online.

Diane Gonzaelz portryas seniors as they complete their FASFA application online.

Diane Gonzaelz portryas seniors as they complete their FASFA application online.

Yasmine Soria, Reporter

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Senior students at William Howard Taft High School rush to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) with the new October opening registration date.

FAFSA is an application for federal and state student aid to pay for a college or career school. FAFSA is not merit based nor is it a scholarship, it is based on the size of the family and the family’s financial income. The FAFSA application has to be filled out annually in case of change of the family income, which can change how much money the state gives the student. The amount of money given to the student is on a need-based aid, which is what the Expected Family Contribution formula dictates. As an example, say the student’s cost of attendance is $18,000. The EFC formula would dictate that the family would cover $14,000, while the state would give you $4,000 on a need-based aid. In this circumstance, the student can get non-need-based aid which can be merit-based. This money does not need to be paid back.

The old opening registration date was Jan. 1; however, as of 2018 the new date is Oct. 1. and the closing date is roughly June 30.

“The financial aid is technically on a first come first serve basis… there is a deadline for the end of the school year; however, the sooner you fill out the application, the more money you can receive,” said senior counselor Michael Howe.

As seniors fill out the FAFSA, they get a Student Aid Report (SAR), which they then send to their selected colleges. Once accepted, the school of their choice financial aid office receives this money and subtracts the money from your tuition. Taft counselors provide help to the student in filling out the application as the first time can be confusing. Getting the parents involved is crucial in this process.  

“The parents need to know so they’re not surprised at what the amount of tuition might be and how much they can  to contribute. In my nine years here, I’ve had a lot of incredibly intelligent kids who have been accepted into really good schools, but when it comes time for that financial award letter, they can’t pay for it but they’ve never had a conversation with their parents about it,” said Howe.

At Taft filling out the application is a graduation requirement even if the student is unsure of whether they want to go to college.

“The site was hard to access at first because of lag, but I was able to access the website and it didn’t take over an hour. My mom was super helpful and prepared. I started the same day I finished,” said senior, Sarah Haras Div. 947.

Completing the FASFA application process can be confusing for the first time, but with the help of counselors and parents, the process can be smooth, painless and quick. Good luck to the graduates of 2019 for the sooner you get it done the better the outcome.

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Seniors fasten their FAFSA seatbelts