Texas Offers Resources To Help More Students Get College Financial Aid Before Jan. 15 Deadline

Efforts across Texas to encourage aspiring students to complete their free application for federal student aid forms by the Jan. 15 deadline have taken on new urgency after 100,000 fewer high school students nationwide have completed the forms that had to be completed in the summer of 2021.

Colleges and universities use the apps to examine a student’s financial needs for scholarships. The federal priority deadline for high school students is February 1, although so-called FAFSA requests will be accepted until April 1. Thousands of dollars in Federal Pell Grants are available for students in need, and these students can also access loans at great rates.

In July 2020, more than 2 million applications were filed by high school students nationwide, according to data from the National College Attainment Network show. The high school class of 2021 filled almost 5% fewer applications, or about 102,000 fewer. About 18 million students seeking college financial aid apply each year, in total.

In addition to federal student aid, Texas student aid applications may be submitted, typically offered to students to stay in the state for college. The Texas state deadline is January 15.

“I think it’s important that we help each other and help the students here in high schools like mine, where sometimes it’s a little harder for the parents to be able to support the student, so sometimes it’s necessary. to have these resources available to students, ”said Nataly Martinez, Spring 2021 graduate of Eastside Early College High School in Austin, at an event hosted by Austin ISD where students and parents were offered opportunities to help filling out the 108-question form.

Martinez, a college junior at the University of North Texas, is the first person in her family to attend college. She said she completed 62 credit hours while still in high school.

The questions on the form are often technical, and 2020 Family Income Taxes must be completed before a FAFSA can be submitted for the household. The process can be especially difficult for families with English as a second language or for those who have never had to prepare paperwork before, like Martinez’s. For high school students who need help filling out the form, information is available online or college counselors at their schools.

She thanked two of the district staff, grateful to them for helping her finish it.

“I am extremely grateful to have had them because otherwise I would not be able to go to university today. It was thanks to the resources I was able to find on this campus that I was able to pursue my university dream, ”said Martinez.

School districts, local nonprofit education associations, business groups such as local chambers of commerce and other organizations often host events or make resources available to potential students and their families. . Average earnings of college graduates are higher than non-graduates, so that entire communities benefit from increased college attendance and affordability.

FAFSA help falls into three categories, said Darrin Hanson, director of college preparation for Houston ISD, the state’s largest school district: direct student or family support, professional development and public awareness.

Houston ISD hosts events it calls “Financial Aid Roadshows” where district staff and local experts are directly available to families to help them complete their FAFSAs or answer questions. Professional development refers to the work behind the scenes to prepare experts for these events, and they take place throughout the year, Hanson said.

There is also Online Resources including videos to help families complete the FAFSA, and some districts text or email to check in with students and families and remind them of deadlines.

“Millions of dollars in federal student aid go unclaimed every year,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett, an Austin Democrat, speaking at the Austin event. “We have barriers that are preventing too many students in our community coming straight out of school from getting the education they need and want to achieve, and this morning we are trying to do something about it. this subject. “

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