HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the PA Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) encouraged students to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as “FAFSA.”
The FAFSA is an application required to apply for federal student aid, including federal grants, work-study and loans to help pay for college.
“The FAFSA for high school seniors is extraordinarily important. It’s a gateway to higher education. It often meets that gap that our students face, and without it, many students in the Commonwealth and beyond would not have access to higher education,” said Dr. William Behre, President of Slippery Rock University.
Today, education officials announced the PA FAFSA Go! Campaign to encourage students to apply.
“It is so important for students to complete. It’s their gateway to receiving financial aid from the federal government, from the schools themselves, and of course, also from Pennsylvania,” said Wendy Dunlap, a regional PHEAA Access Partner.
The PA FAFSA Go! Initiative connects high school counselors, financial aid officers, admissions officers and higher education access partners to share best practices and resources in assisting high school seniors and postsecondary students in completing their first FAFSA, or their renewal FAFSA for the 2023-24 school year.
In recent years, the FAFSA completion rate has decreased and officials hope the initiative will help more students receive more resources.
“FAFSA completion has been down over the past several years and millions of dollars have been left on the table for our Pennsylvania learners,” said Dr. Tanya I. Garcia, Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for Postsecondary and Higher Education at PDE.
According to PDE, the high school class of 2021 left behind an estimated $3.75 billion in Pell grants by not completing the FAFSA, which are dollars that students do not have to repay.
Officials say there are plenty of resources, especially with this year’s state budget, which provides a $220 million funding increase for higher education institutions.
“College is expensive,” said Dr. Garcia. “Governor Wolf assured that higher education was not neglected in his fiscal year 2022-23 budget, increasing amounts provided to institutions of higher education,” she added.
The 2023-24 FAFSA became available on Oct. 1.
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