It's that time of year again, time for those headed to college to start thinking about filling out their student loan applications.
On Monday, the application window officially opened to those seeking higher education, and the Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium wants to make sure high school students are prepared to fill out the aid application.
National FAFSA completion rates are low. In the 2016-17 academic year, 1.2 million high school graduates didn’t complete the FAFSA, according to the National College Access Network. Of the 1.2 million high school graduates who didn’t complete the FAFSA, more than half were eligible to receive a grant of $3,500.
MOEC executive director Martha Bruckner says the lack of completed applications is commonly caused by false impressions about FAFSA, with many students not applying because they think federal financial aid is only available for those in most need. "It can open doors to all sorts of government money and scholarship dollars."
FAFSA offers a wide range of financial support including grants that don’t need to be paid back as well as loans that offer low interest rates and alternatives to repayment such as a work-study.
Bruckner says high school counselors also provide support for the process. "Because high school counselors are geared into knowing how to do it, where to do it. I know many of the high schools even have computers set up to help students and their parents complete the work."
Submitting FAFSA applications early makes it easier to receive an estimated financial aid offer quicker and gives students more time to prepare financially for college. The FAFSA application window for 2019 is open now through June 30th.
Students can complete their applications using the free government website.