Pay for Higher Education: Free local resources to help you navigate FAFSA

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SPOKANE, Washington— Whether you’re in college or about to pursue graduate school, you’ll want to keep your financial options open by filling out the form. Free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) or the Applying for Student Financial Aid in Washington (WASFA).

What does FAFSA / WASFA do?
These forms can help you get grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study programs.

Which form should I fill out?
FAFSA and WASFA applications are now open. WASFA is specific to Washington students who are not eligible for federal financial aid due to their immigration status or who have not repaid their federal loans / grants.

FAFSA vs. WASFA

Deadlines to remember

  1. FAFSA opened on October 1, 2021, and must be completed by June 2022.
  2. WASFA opened on October 1, 2021, and must be completed by June 2022. It has a priority filing deadline of January 31, 2022.

Completing the FAFSA or WASFA as early as possible can help you better meet individual FAFSA deadlines, which vary by school and program.

“This allows schools to get back to students as quickly as possible with your financial aid program,” said Shannon Demant, regional director of the College Success Foundation in Spokane.

Foundation for College Success prepares students and families for college, including the application process and financial aid.

Don’t reject a school on the basis of tuition alone, as the actual price you will pay is in financial aid award letters.

Completing FAFSA will allow schools and universities to send you these letters that are tailored specifically to your situation.

“[These] are dollars that come from both the federal and state levels that help students get to college and can help us prevent debt, ”said Demant.

David Rovick knows that the college experience can be intimidating, especially for first-generation students.

“My parents were very supportive of me, but they didn’t know the language and couldn’t tell me what college was like,” Rovick said.

As an academic and career coordinator for East Valley High School in Spokane Valley, Rovick is working to create a higher education support group for first generation students at his school.

He says he doesn’t want students to reject higher education on the basis of cost alone.

“With financial help, this might be more of an option than you think,” Rovick said.

Rovick advises students, but he also encourages families to call their student’s academic advisor or contact person to get involved in the application process.

“Not just me. All of the counselors I know in the area are more than welcome and love that families reach out to them to let them know how they can help their son or daughter,” said Rovick.

Financial aid assistance

There are many resources to help students and families navigate financial aid applications.

  1. College Advisors – Each high school has a college advisor or resource person who can answer questions about higher education. Students and families should call their school to find out who this person is and ask them questions.
  2. Education Groups – Contact Spokane Academic Success Foundation and Northern Idaho Higher Education for upcoming local events to help you complete financial aid applications.
  3. Online Help – Washington State’s Grade 12 Campaign is running free online sessions in English and Spanish until next year to help families navigate FAFSA / WASFA. Dates and registration information can be found here

“We want every student to take advantage of the money that is available so that they can go out, have a bright future, engage in our community and our workforce, and be successful as adults,” said Demant.

RELATED: Free FAFSA Help: Here’s Where to Get Expert Advice in University Aid

READ: The FAFSA, your ticket to help pay for college education, just opened

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