High school counselor, financial aid director agree FAFSA money will be in high demand this year

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 12:22 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Current and potential college students have an opportunity to get their hands on $150 billion in free federal aid in a bunch of different ways with the FAFSA.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is based on a family’s tax information. For the year 2021-22, it’ll be based on 2019 tax information.

“With the uncertainty of family income, this could be a real game changer for students to be able to go to school and be able to afford it if their family is struggling financially," said Kenny Lopez, a counselor at Falkville High School in Morgan County.

An important note on the FAFSA though, it is first come first serve, so Lopez and Patrick James, the Director of Financial Aid at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, both said students need to complete the form soon.

“We tell students to fill it out as quickly as possible,” James said.

Both think FAFSA money will be in high demand this year, so they say to make sure you’re looking other places for scholarship money, as well.

“We tell them to look for just anything you can, sometimes it’s beating the bushes and sometimes it’s like finding a needle in a haystack, but there are a handful of scholarships out there,” James said.

He said it’s best to try different search engines to find scholarships you might not know about.

“My example with students is if you spent 20 hours looking for scholarships and you got one $1,000 scholarship, you just earned $50 an hour,” Lopez said.

Lopez said it’s important to stay organized and motivated when you’re trying to find and apply for scholarships.

“The sweet spot is when both parents and student are motivated, because you do need a parent a lot of the time for those applications.”

James added that since the 2021-22 FAFSA application will reflect your 2019 tax information it won’t include if you’re family has experienced any difficulties due to the pandemic. But, he said you can contact the school or schools you’re applying to and possibly get your finances adjusted to reflect more recent tax information.

You can apply for the FAFSA on the Financial Student Aid website.

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