The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Students leaving financial aid dollars untapped


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 12, 2018 - 7:36 AM

Georgia’s high school graduating class of 2017 left an estimated $70M in free federal financial aid for college unclaimed by failing to fill out the required application, according to information published by NerdWallet.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called the FAFSA, serves as the

application for all federal student financial aid programs and most state of Georgia financial aid programs. The application for students planning to enroll in college for the Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 year just became available on Oct. 1.

The Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), the state agency responsible for administering all of the state’s scholarship, grant, and student loan programs, encourages high school seniors, college students, and parents to please take note and seek assistance if needed to fill out the form.

I am troubled that countless students in our state are eligible for federal and state financial aid programs but fail to take advantage of those opportunities because of lack of information or knowledge about the application and financial aid procedures.

The Federal Pell Grant provides up to $6,095 a year for students with the most need. Coupled with state financial aid programs, such as the HOPE Career Grant, students seeking a postsecondary certificate or diploma in high-demand career fields that have nearly guaranteed job placement rates can attend college tuition free and with many of the other associated costs covered.

Many resources are available state-wide to assist students and their parents with the application process. GSFC provides free financial aid information sessions, application completion events, and even one-on-one counseling to students and families. Events are hosted around the state and are publicized at high schools.

Georgia’s College Connector, a free print and online publication, provides detailed information on the college financial aid process, including checklists and timelines. To find an event near you or for assistance, call 1-800-505-4732 or email outreach@gsfc.org .

Just as troubling to me though are the countless instances of students that pay for college planning assistance that can be accessed for free. If you are applying to an Ivy League or highly selective institution, by all means, utilize the services of a college entrance coach or consultant if you feel it’s warranted and you can.

However, most students do not need to pay for assistance to attend most institutions. And, while we hope you stay in Georgia for your postsecondary education, we would encourage you to visit the site www.foryounotforprofit.org if you are seeking a private student loan or if you need financial aid assistance in other states. All of the resources available there are provided by other state-based and nonprofit agencies that have your best interests first.

Caylee Noggle

interim president, GSFC

Tucker