New Graduates Still Have Time for FAFSA

Guest Correspondence

Graphic courtesy Education Foundation

If you are a relative or friend of a high school student, please help us spread good news that it is not too late for new graduates to apply for funding that can help them realize their dreams for after high school.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential form that every graduating student must submit to determine their eligibility to receive financial aid to fund their education after high school.

In addition to the Federal Pell Grant, other scholarship and grant programs rely on the FAFSA determination to guide award decisions.  

Encouraging students to complete the FAFSA is beneficial both for individuals and community economic vitality. As more local students submit the FAFSA, they receive more Pell Grant awards to help them complete education and training beyond high school. Data show that earnings increase significantly as the level of education rises. Trained, skilled workers qualify for higher-paying jobs, boosting their personal career advancement as well as contributing to a strong, resilient local workforce.         

Many people have read about or experienced firsthand the major changes made to FAFSA this year. The FAFSA Simplification Act changes, which the U.S. government mandated in 2020, were scheduled to be effective for the 2024-25 application year. 

The revamped FAFSA form is greatly simplified, but its rollout was hampered with glitches that delayed application completion and notification of eligibility to students. By the time FAFSA errors were fixed, some frustrated families had given up and students had delayed or shelved education pursuits, unsure if they could cover costs. 

Nationwide, FAFSA submissions from the Class of ’24 graduates were down significantly from the past year. At the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, we monitored the situation and prepared a local action plan shaped around our knowledge that:  

  • Completing the FAFSA is a strong indication of a student’s likelihood of pursuing education after high school.
  • Per the Florida College Access Network, 60% of Florida jobs will require a degree or credential by 2030, but only 45.6% of local residents aged 25-64 currently meet the criteria. 
  • A thriving local economy depends on an educated, agile, and ready workforce, and completing the FAFSA opens pathways to needed degrees or credentials. 

Through the collective effort of community and education partners and with the support of donors, PLANit Sarasota, the alliance for education and career planning administered by the Education Foundation, is hosting FAFSA open house workshops in Sarasota County high schools, colleges, LaunchPad4U and at partner organizations. 

There still is time to submit a FAFSA and make a plan for this year. FAFSA open house workshops will continue through July, and students and families can work one-on-one with a FAFSA expert. 

Please help us spread the good news to the Class of ’24 high school graduates. A schedule of July’s FAFSA Open Houses can be found at the Education Foundation’s website, edfoundationsrq.org.

Jennifer Vigne is president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

Graphic courtesy Education Foundation

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