Maximizing Financial Aid for the 2021-22 School Year

By Christina Cardona

If you’re currently enrolled at FSW, it’s safe to say that you’ve completed the free application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, at least once. It is a significant step that students and families can take to pay for college. According to the 2019 Federal Student Aid annual report, the U.S. Department of Education awards more than $120 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to approximately 10 million students at nearly 6,000 schools. 

One of the most important things for you to know about how financial aid works is that it’s distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The sooner you file your FAFSA, the better chance you have at qualifying for the most grant, scholarship, and work-study aid. According to a recent Discover Student Loans survey, nearly 40% of parents who didn’t plan to apply for federal assistance now say they will as a result of COVID-19. Based on these survey results, it is even more important to file early this year as there may be an increase in applications.

According to NerdWallet’s 2018 annual analysis of federal financial aid data, over 600,000 students in the Class of 2018 missed out on $2.6 billion of free Pell Grant money because they did not complete the FAFSA application. A Pell Grant-eligible high school graduate, could have received up to $6,095 for the 2018-19 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“All college-bound students should fill out the FAFSA, no matter how much their family earns,” says Brianna McGurran, NerdWallet’s student loans expert. “Losing out on critical financial aid is one of the biggest mistakes students make. Submitting the FAFSA as soon as possible should be as essential as the college application itself.”

If you find yourself putting off completing the FAFSA application because you feel that it’s a long and complicated process, think again! The Federal Student Aid office has taken steps to make the application more intuitive and straightforward, including an IRS data retrieval tool that makes it easy to transfer your tax return information. The office also launched a mobile app called myStudentAid, which simplifies and streamlines the process through useful and time-saving features. It’s been so successful that more than 2.1 million people used a mobile device to submit the FAFSA form last year. 

If you need assistance with your application or have any questions, visit FSW’s website of the Financial Aid office at The Federal Student Aid website also provides an array of helpful resources, visit

Christina Cardona

Managing Editor – Community/Opinion

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