PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — College is a huge expense for most high school graduates, but even more so for many who failed to seek financial aid.
An annual survey by Nerdwallet, Inc. found that U.S. high school graduates left more than $2.7 billion on the table last academic year by not filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
“This is really the peak time of the year for most colleges for getting the applications in for financial aid,” said Noel Simpson, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA).
The FAFSA is a gateway to grants, work-study programs, and student loans. The study found approximately 1.5 million high school graduates didn’t fill out the form last year.
“As long as you have tax information and a bank statement, it’s not a hard form to complete,” Simpson added.
In Rhode Island, 36 percent of graduates didn’t fill out the FAFSA last school year, and the same goes for 38 percent of students in Massachusetts.
According to the survey, Rhode Island students also missed out on an estimated $6.8 million worth of Pell Grants.
In Massachusetts, the study found students left more than $37 million on the table.
“That doesn’t have to be that way,” said Simpson. “Because there is a significant amount of aid that is available.”
The federal deadline for the FAFSA is different than state deadlines and varies state to state. Many colleges and universities also have their own deadlines, so the best advice for high school seniors is to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible.Resources on the web:
- Fill out the FAFSA
- FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions
- FAFSA Deadlines by State
- College Planning Center of Rhode Island
- Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority