Cliff Peale reports:
More high-school seniors completed their federal financial aid forms before mid-January this year, but, in most cases, less than one-third of the senior class.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, opens the door to any federal grants or loans, plus any need-based aid from universities.
The application can be filled out starting Jan. 1. There is no formal deadline, but money in some aid programs can run out if the form is submitted too late.
In the first 17 days after filing started at the beginning of the year, 2,179 Greater Cincinnati high-school seniors had completed the form, including 110 seniors at Mason High School, more than any other high school in the region. That’s up 3.7 percent from the same time last year, an Enquirer analysis of the most recent federal Education Department data shows.
Always critical, the aid form’s importance has catapulted over the last half-dozen years as student-loan debt topped $1 trillion, more than $29,000 per borrower and accounting for 9 percent of all consumer debt.
High schools pester and prod both students and parents on the importance of completing the online form – to be found at https://fafsa.ed.gov – and completing it early.
“The end of January is pretty important, just to see that the money’s still there,” said Jason Mott, junior/senior guidance counselor at Covington Catholic High School. “That federal bucket dries up pretty quickly.”
Suzanne Carr of Mason was planning to complete the form late last week for her twins, both seniors at Mason High School.