Counselors encourage completing FAFSA

Galiah Abbud

FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form that determines a current and prospective college student’s eligibility for federal aid. The FAFSA form must be completed, as of a district-wide mandate, in order for a student to walk on graduation day and continue their pursuit of higher education.

“It is important for student to complete FAFSA for two reasons.  First, colleges determine financial aid eligibility by using the FAFSA data, so if student are hoping to get any financial aid for college it is essential.  Additionally, filling out FAFSA is a graduation requirement, so to earn your high school diploma FAFSA must be completed,” said College readiness counselor Shayne Culpepper.

According to CNBC, FAFSA has facilitated the affording of universities and has supplied over $120 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to more than 13 million college students yearly.  Evidently, the form makes college far more affordable and can benefit any and all students in the class of 2022. 

“Benefits of filling out FAFSA are that in some cases students will qualify for financial aid that they did not anticipate receiving,” Culpepper said. “Also, in the case that unforeseen circumstances arise midyear in college (such as a parent losing a job) having the FAFSA filled will assist in qualifying for immediate aid mid-year.”

Although the priority deadline has passed, it is still necessary for a student to complete the form. After the form is completed, a student must upload evidence of its completion to Naviance. 

Naviance is a website that ensures the college and career readiness of a student and can be accessed through EPISD plaza under a student’s login information.

“Naviance helps counselors by providing additional tools to help assist students with the college search and application process.  It is also another area where we can track students in ensuring they are completing all the many essential steps in the process,” Culpepper said.

Considering, FAFSA requires information on tax returns it can be challenging for a student to understand and complete; therefore, there are resources available. EPISD is providing support for finishing FAFSA such as scheduling an appointment with a financial aid advisor at the University of Texas at El Paso. Reaching out to your counselor or asking a teacher for help can mitigate any problems or concerns a student has in regard to college readiness. 

“I filled out my FAFSA form in October,” said senior Ana Catalina Marquez. “It was difficult to understand at first; however my counselor helped me and I was able to complete it and now I wait for the benefits I’ll receive.”

There are exemptions that don’t require a student to complete the FAFSA application. If you feel you qualify for an exemption, you can reach out to your counselor in order to complete an exemption form. However, it is to the benefit of the student and their family to apply in order to receive any benefits, even if minimal. 

“I recommend that students come to the counseling office and see either myself or Mrs. Arena for help completing the FAFSA or uploading it to Naviance,” Culpepper said.

Seniors that haven’t completed the FAFSA form are expected to complete the form by June 2022. Considering FAFSA is first come first serve in regard to how much money a student receives, it is recommended that a student completes the form as soon as possible.