Times Staff Report
The March 1 priority deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is approaching, and Alabama’s completion rate is falling behind. Currently, Alabama high school seniors and their families are positioned to leave a significant amount of money for college on the table if they do not complete the form in the coming weeks. The National College Access Network coordinates a national FAFSA tracker, and, based on up-to-date data featured on the tracker, Alabama is currently ranked 43rd for FAFSA completion.
Alabama Possible, a statewide nonprofit that removes barriers to prosperity, manages the Cash for College Alabama campaign, which teams up with school counselors, career coaches and other educators at high schools across the state to promote FAFSA completion. Throughout February, the Cash for College Alabama Campaign will raise awareness of the FAFSA and aggressively advocate for students and families to complete the financial aid form.
“One of the biggest reasons families don’t complete the FAFSA is that they don’t think they will qualify for financial aid. However, 85 percent of families who complete the FAFSA do get help paying for college,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible. “Financial aid is limited, and that’s why everyone who plans to go to college in the fall should complete their FAFSA before the March 1 priority deadline. We are sharing this message throughout the month of February so that Alabamians get the resources they need to complete the FAFSA.”
Last year, students and their families left $24 billion worth of financial aid on the table. By completing the FAFSA, students become eligible for grants, loans and work-study programs. Even students with merit or athletic scholarships may qualify for money to help pay for housing, books, meal plans, and transportation.
Students and their families can learn more about the FAFSA by visiting cashforcollegealabama.org
Here are other deadlines to be mindful of for the 2018-2019 Aid Year:
May 1, 2018 (Priority Deadline) The 2018-2019 FAFSA must be submitted to the central processing system (CPS) by May 1, 2018 in order to be considered for financial assistance (SEOG, College Work-Study, and Alabama State Grant) for the Fall 2018 semester or academic year.
August 10, 2018 (Deadline) The 2018-2019 FAFSA along with all transcripts and in-house paperwork must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office by August 10, 2018. Students not meeting this requirement will be required to pay tuition and fees upfront. Once the student’s financial aid requirements are complete and if the student qualifies for federal aid, they will be reimbursed. No federal aid is guaranteed until the student’s file has been reviewed, processed, and completed.
Cash for College Alabama is a partnership of Alabama Possible, the Alabama State Department of Education, Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama, and the Alabama Media Group.
Alabama Possible is a statewide nonprofit organization that removes barriers to prosperity through advocacy, education, and collaboration. Its research-driven work is designed to broaden relationships and enhance capacity building. For more information www.alabamapossible.org.