Students thinking about attending college in the fall should file their FAFSA as soon as possible for federal aid, grants, and scholarships.
In a normal year, deadlines for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) would have passed by now for most state aid and for many colleges and universities. But with the many ways COVID-19 has impacted us all this spring, the number of submitted FAFSA applications was down compared with previous years, causing many schools and states to extend their deadlines.
Students Need to Complete the FAFSA – Now
Some of the extended FAFSA deadlines may have come and gone, so it’s possible students may have missed deadlines for aid from their state or college, but the federal FAFSA deadline for 2019-20 is June 30, 2020; and the federal deadline for 2020-21 is June 30, 2021. For students who want to attend a higher education institution in upcoming semesters, it’s recommended to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Getting federal student loan assistance and help from grants and scholarships is going to be important for students in an economy like the one we’re in today – and completing the FAFSA is still the path to getting financial aid.
Why FAFSA Applications Are Down This Spring
Students are uncertain about the financial feasibility of attending in the fall. The higher education institutions they have in mind may seem unaffordable, given changes to their parents’ or their own financial situations. Many students are changing their plans to attend school closer to home, and there may be uncertainty about what going to college in fall will look like.
For many students, college may simply seem out of grasp right now – and not just for new students who were due to start this fall. More than a few current students who have already completed the FAFSA are finding their situation is drastically different than it was weeks to months ago. They may be wondering if attending in the fall is financially feasible. It’s important for students to remember that they can and should file an amended FAFSA with their new information, including changes to their parents’ employment, income, and financial information – as well as their own. While they may feel uncertain about the future, being able to consider continuing their education is better than having few or no options: the FAFSA is a bridge to financial options for students who may feel bleak about the future of their education.
Filing or Amending the FAFSA (and Getting Help)
The easiest way to complete (or amend) your FAFSA is on studentaid.gov or by using the myStudentAid app for iOS or Android. Students can access the form online at studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. The Office of Federal Student Aid recommends students complete the FAFSA questions as instructed, submit the FAFSA, and then contact the financial aid office at the school they plan to attend to discuss their current situation if their family’s financial situation has changed dramatically since they or their parents filed taxes. Depending on whether students have already filed the FAFSA or not, there are two distinct areas for new or returning users. There are plenty of helpful answers to common coronavirus-related FAFSA questions on the site, as well as questions related to completing the FAFSA for students and families.
We’re Here for You
We know that you, as financial aid professionals, are faced with many challenging questions related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the impact of COVID-19 on school closures and online learning, and so many regulatory issues. Share this blog with your students and families to remind them of the importance of filing the FAFSA in order to get valuable federal, grant, and scholarship aid to help with education expenses.
Feel free to contact your ScholarNet rep if there are other ways we can help. We’re here for you.