Federal financial aid improves college affordability FASFA due June 30

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

No one would pass up a $100 bill lying on the sidewalk. It would be scooped up faster than you can say "Score!"

Taking advantage of higher education financial options requires more effort, but it can pay off for families with college-bound students whom I strongly encourage to fill out the federal Free Application for Student Financial Aid by June 30.

This form can open the door to thousands of dollars in financial aid for college from the federal government. I encourage every student and family to take the time to fill out this form to be considered for grants, loans and work-study funds. The Arizona Board of Regents is committed to college affordability and ensuring that our state has the skilled workforce needed for the future, and FASFA is a key tool for students to make college more affordable.

The U.S. Department of Education is the largest provider of financial aid in the nation, awarding more than $150 billion each year. The best part is that applying for FASFA doesn't cost a cent, and it is worth the effort for many students.

In fact, most students are eligible to receive financial aid from the federal government to help with college expenses. While income is taken into consideration, it does not automatically prevent students from receiving federal student aid.

In our state, approximately 71 percent of all enrolled students in Arizona's public universities applied for need-based financial aid during the 2014 academic year and filled out the FAFSA form. Of those students, I'm happy to report that 83 percent received aid. Yet, approximately 30 percent of students did not apply for need-based financial aid when they could have possibly benefited simply from filling out the form.

Students who fill out FASFA provide information that is used to calculate their expected family contribution. In turn, the expected contribution determines federal student aid eligibility and financial aid awards. Expected family contribution is a measure of a family's financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law with a family's taxed and untaxed income, assets and benefits - such as unemployment or Social Security - considered in the formula. Additional factors considered are family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

Filling out the FASFA is worth the effort involved for students and families. Not many people would refuse free money, so I urge you not to let June 30th pass you by.