College Planning

There’s Still Time! 3 Reasons Seniors Should Still Complete the FAFSA

If you are in the Class of 2020 and considering attending college in fall 2020, we encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) if you have not already.

As you think about what you want to do after senior year and navigate the impact of the coronavirus on your plans and goals, it’s important to remember that college can still be affordable. Completing the FAFSA is the first step to accessing financial aid.

Many schools have postponed their deposit deadline from May 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020 or later, so it’s important to write down all of the relevant dates to make sure you’re staying on track.

Here’s why it’s important to complete your FAFSA now, if you haven’t already:

#1 Financial Aid Is Still Available

If you are planning to enroll in a college in fall 2020, there’s still time to apply for financial aid, which you can apply for from the federal government, your state, and your college. Filling out the FAFSA is the most important step you can take to becoming eligible for any financial aid:

  • Federal aid: Federal aid, including Pell Grants and work-study, is still available and only accessible by filling out the FAFSA.

  • State aid: Each state has its own deadline.

  • Institutional aid: Each college also has its own deadlines, and many require the FAFSA to qualify for its aid. Make sure you visit the college’s website or contact the financial aid office for details.

Remember, financial aid is often granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so the earlier you complete your forms, the better chance you have of receiving more aid.

Do not be discouraged if you have missed a college or state deadline. Find out if you are able to contact your state’s education agency or your intended college’s financial aid office. Though it is not guaranteed that some states or colleges may have the flexibility to provide aid, it is still worth the shot. Many colleges have set up websites with information on how their school is handling impact of the coronavirus on incoming students, so be sure to check the sites of schools that you are considering for the latest information.

#2 Help is out there

Benefits Data Trust, a nonprofit partner of the College Board, is providing students with free, personalized FAFSA assistance by text message. Students can text a FAFSA assistance chatbot to get help overcoming common stumbling blocks to completing the FAFSA, such as gathering the right documents, navigating the FSA ID, figuring out what to do when you have a special circumstance, and much more. From May 2020 to September 2020, the chatbot will be available to any student who needs help with the FAFSA. Students can go to http://www.getfafsahelp.org/CB for more information and instructions on how to sign up. Sign up today!

#3 College can still be affordable if your financial circumstances are affected by coronavirus

After completing the FAFSA, you may make any corrections or updates to your submission by 11:59 p.m. Central Time (CT), September 21, 2020. If your family financial circumstances were affected by coronavirus and you have not received financial aid packages from colleges, make sure you update your information accordingly. You can make corrections to your FAFSA for the schools to which you released your information when you completed the FAFSA. You do not need to have narrowed down your college choice. 

If you have already received financial aid packages and/or accepted your college offer, but your financial circumstances have been affected by covid-19, you can reach out to the financial aid officers and apply for additional aid. Each college is different, so make sure you check the financial aid office’s website, and don’t be afraid to reach out via email or phone.  

Figuring out how to pay for college may be stressful but remember that you are not alone.

To learn more about the FAFSA, visit studentaid.gov.