Navigating the road map to college is complex and intimidating for many students, especially for students who are the first in their family to attend college. One of the biggest roadblocks for students tends to be financial aid.
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the primary form that the federal government, states and colleges use to award financial aid. Students need to submit the FAFSA every year to continue to be considered for financial aid. Financial aid consists of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study employment opportunities that are available to help students pay for the rising cost of attending college.
Many criticize the FAFSA saying the current application experience is unacceptable due to its 108-question form which can befuddle many, even those experienced in the financial aid processes.
Each year, in preparation for the FASFA deadline, Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) host workshops at each of our Future Centers to support hundreds of students and families in completing the FAFSA form. Throughout the months of October and November, DSF hosted our 2017 workshops. Here’s a quick recap:
- DSF held 15 FAFSA Workshops across Denver
- Assisted 779 students & families
- Submitted 631 FAFSA forms
- Worked with 71 volunteers to support families
- Contributed over 270 in volunteer hours
- Held 135 volunteer workshop sessions
There have been numerous calls from both sides of the political aisle to simplify the process. At a recent full hearing committee on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Examining Proposals to Simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Senator Michael Bennet gave mention to Denver Scholarship Foundation.
“…..When I was superintendent of Denver Public Schools we had a local couple who, he was a graduate of Lincoln High School [sic], and they created something, the Marquez Family [sic], they created something called the Denver Scholarship Foundation.”
In a effort to stress the importance of simplifying the FAFSA, Senator Bennet then goes on to explain the difficulties that arise when completing the form.
“….in order to be eligible for the Denver Scholarship Foundation they[sic] had to apply to two other scholarships, and in order to do that, they had to fill out the FASFA form, and pretty quickly we figured out that that was a huge pain point, and we had to hire people, as Dr. McCallin said [sic], to staff these. We called them Future Centers in our high schools to take people through these forms. [sic]”
FAFSA simplification is an effort to reduce the number of questions students are asked when applying for financial aid, and to ensure that some answers to those questions are provided by existing tax data, reducing the length of the application process. It promises to help students access college who already apply but are deterred by the form itself.
DSF believes that financial aid should not be a barrier to success. Each year, we help students conquer the FASFA form so that they can increase the amount of gift aid given, which in turn increases college attendance rates. Our work would not be possible without the generous support of our community, college partners and supporters who help to make the road map to college gradation easier.