Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Otherwise known as FAFSA. When I look back to high school, filling out FAFSA felt like this daunting task and scarier than applying to colleges themselves. What made it even scarier was that a lot of students tend to feel alone during the process of filling out this government document. This feeling of loneliness becomes heightened as a first generation student in my opinion because your parents can be just as blindsided by all the technicalities of the FAFSA terminology.
As I mentioned in previous blog posts, I was lucky enough to have an amazing support system in high school, both through my school’s guidance department and a college-bound program I am still a part of. My program, SEO Scholars was filled with students like me who were too intimidated by the terminology of FAFSA and did not have anyone in their family to ask them for help. They decided to host a series of workshops where they had students and their parents come in and fill out their FAFSA and CSS Profile with the ability to ask personal questions. This workshop was so helpful and productive. I remember feeling a weight come off my shoulders leaving that workshop because there was someone holding my hand along this complicated process. This workshop also gave me the confidence to fill out the FAFSA in future years, even though my program does happen to still host these workshops for college students.
There are all kinds of opportunities available to students, including workshops helping students to fill out your FAFSA. I encourage you all to take advantage of these opportunities wherever you may find them. All it takes is a quick Google search and asking for a bit of help. Whether you are in high school or in college, this can apply to you. In college, you can go to your financial aid office and set up an appointment and you will have the ability to sit down with a counselor and do your FAFSA with you.
When it comes to FAFSA, anything can change. I have filled out the application for three years now and it does get easier. However, everyone’s situation is different. If you are going through a major financial change in your life that needs to be reflected by your FAFSA, it can get a lot harder. However, with a lot of things in college, asking for help is never a bad idea.
I wish you all the best. Stay safe and good luck!