As of 2020, Forbes claims that student loan debt is at a record high at about $1.56 trillion. With the cost of college on the rise, students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA, to see if they are eligible for any financial aid. The FAFSA opened to students Thursday, Oct. 1st. The deadline for applications is June 30.
According to counselor Nina Seperghan, the sooner seniors apply, the better.
“There is an allotted number given so the sooner that you submit your application the higher chance a student can receive more in their federal aid package,” Seperghan said.
Federal aid comes in the form of grants, scholarships, or student loans. While filling out the application is a graduation requirement for Illinois students this year, some students may not be eligible for any form of financial aid.
“There is sometimes where students do not meet certain criteria to receive the financial aid,” Seperghan said. “A student can fill out the waiver to opt out or they can fill out the alternative application.”
So how do seniors start the FAFSA application process? Counselor Bob Vozza recommends using the “college and career tab” found under the guidance department on mvhsipsd.org.
“The first thing you should do is make a list of colleges and universities you are interested in,” Vozza said. “Then, start gathering all the financial documents necessary for the process.”
After that, students can start the application process.
“Apply early, there are limited funds,” Vozza said. “You can apply online or using a mobile app. Use the IRS data retrieval, it will automatically populate the FAFSA. Take your time and do not leave fields blank and double check your work.”
Overall, the process of filling out the FAFSA is relatively easy but time-consuming. Counselors recommend starting early and using resources provided by the guidance department for any extra help.