Completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the single most important thing a student can do to get assistance paying for college. By completing this application, students find out how much financial aid they qualify for, including Pell Grants. Also, students usually can’t qualify for need-based or merit-based aid without a FAFSA on file.
While filling out the FAFSA should be a critical step in applying to college, too many Utah students don’t fill it out at all. In fact, Utah is the last in the nation for FAFSA completions, with only 34% of eligible students filling it out. (You can also check out FAFSA completion rates broken down by Utah high school.)
By not filling out the FAFSA, Utah 2013 high school grads left an estimated $45.5 million in Pell Grants on the table. Pell Grants are funds for students with the most financial need, and do not have to be paid back.
Unclaimed Pell Grant Money Across the US
In order to help boost Utah’s FAFSA completion rates and spread the word about the benefits of completing this application, the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) will host 67 open houses throughout Utah, from February to April, 2015. Students and parents can come to any event for in-person assistance with the FAFSA. These events are held in computer labs in high schools statewide. Last year, UHEAA personally helped over 1,000 students and their families, and they are expecting to help even more this year. To find an event near you, visit blog.uheaa.org/events.
In addition to these events, UHEAA puts together a Do-It-Yourself FAFSA Kit for Parents and Students. This kit contains helpful information on what documents are needed to file the FAFSA, what to do afterwards and the priority deadlines of Utah’s public colleges and universities.
To help further encourage students to fill out the FAFSA, UHEAA will be awarding $3,000 in scholarships to students this spring, and will be giving away another $1,000 for a FAFSA Completion Contest for the entire school.
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