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

Why students and families should fill out financial aid applications now.

SPOKANE, Wash.— Whether you’re college-bound or on the fence about pursuing higher education, you’ll want to keep your financial options open by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Washington Application for Student Financial Aid (WASFA).

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

101421 Fafsa Applies To Full

Which form should I fill out?
FAFSA and WASFA applications are now open. WASFA is specific to Washington students who are ineligible for federal financial aid due to immigration status or who have defaulted on federal loans/grants.

FAFSA vs WASFA

 

Deadlines you should remember

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

Filling out the FAFSA or WASFA as early as possible can give you a better footing on meeting individual FAFSA deadlines, which vary for different schools and programs.

“It allows schools to get back to students as quickly as possible with your financial aid package,” said Shannon Demant, Regional Director of College Success Foundation in Spokane.

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

Don’t dismiss a school based on tuition alone because the real price you’ll pay is in financial aid award letters.

Filling out FAFSA will allow schools and universities to send you these letters which are tailored specifically to your situation.

“[These] are dollars that are there both from the federal level and the state level that helps support students going to college and can help us prevent debt,” Demant said.

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

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

As a College & Career Coordinator for East Valley High School in Spokane Valley, Rovick is working to put together a higher education support group for first-generation students at his school.

He says he doesn’t want students to dismiss higher education based on cost alone.

“Through financial aid, it might be more of an option than you think,” said Rovick.

Rovick counsels students, but he also encourages families to call their student’s college counselor or point person to get involved in the application process.

“Not just me. Any of the counselors I know in the area are more than welcome and love having families contact them saying how they can help their son or daughter,” said Rovick.

Help with Financial Aid

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

  1. College counselors – Every high school has a college counselor or point person who can answer questions about higher education. Students and families should call their schools to find out who that person is and direct questions to them.
  2.  Education groups – Reach out to College Success Foundation Spokane and North Idaho Higher Education for upcoming local events to help you fill out financial aid applications.
  3. Online help – The Washington State 12th Year Campaign is hosting free online sessions in English and Spanish through 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 dollars that are there so they can get out, have a great future, engage in our community and workforce and be successful as adults,” said Demant.

RELATED: Free FAFSA Help: Here’s where to get advice from college aid experts

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