Heading to College? Local Experts Say There’s Still Time to Apply for Financial Aid

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By: Each Day Communication | July 3, 2024

WHEF news article – Delta Storytelling

All college students seeking loans or grants from the government are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). But this year, after the federal government’s attempt to simplify the form led to processing errors and confusion, the number of applications in Mississippi is down, especially in Coahoma County.

When it comes to applying for financial aid, it’s better late than never, say local experts who support college readiness.

Kierstan Dufour works with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, a statewide nonprofit/philanthropy that focuses on students applying to college. She is part of a national group of state-based experts who advise federal officials on financial aid.  

“Students and families who haven’t completed the application for financial aid still have time,” she said. “It’s also true that time is of the essence. Any student thinking of enrolling in college in the fall or returning to college in the fall should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.”

Students and families can access the FAFSA at fafsa.gov. The entire process – from creating an ID, waiting for the ID to be created, and submitting the forms – can be done within three days, Dufour said.

For months, Dufour’s colleagues in the Woodward Hines’ Get2College program have been meeting with families across Coahoma County to help them complete the financial aid application. The Get2College team held pop-up FAFSA days in local schools and held appointments in their Southaven office. Families can still visit get2college.org to book an appointment and receive assistance in-person or virtually with completing the necessary forms.

“We know that Mississippi has a heck of a lot of individuals who require the FAFSA to pay for college,” Dufour said. “We also know from our research that students who complete the FAFSA are four times more likely to enroll in college. Getting these free forms completed will put college within reach for many, many local students.”

In July, the Woodward Hines Education Foundation is planning several events in Coahoma County to help families apply for federal financial aid. Keep an eye out at https://www.facebook.com/Get2College to learn more details soon.

Later this year, the Woodward Hines Get2College team is looking forward to introducing another way to help families with completing financial aid forms: a mobile van that can reach towns across the Delta and provide families with privacy and internet access. The van is being built out with support from the Walton Family Foundation.

Woodward Hines has also made a series of videos that families can watch to learn more about the process of applying for federal financial aid and much more. Access the videos at youtube.com/@Get2College, and learn more about Woodward Hines’ work to support college readiness across the state at woodwardhines.org

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