Washington students may be leaving behind $50 million in federal aid

SPOKANE, Wash. — According to Governor Jay Inslee, students in Washington may be missing out on $50 million in federal aid by not filling out their FAFSA’s.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened on October 1, and Washington state has the third-lowest FAFSA completion rate in the country.

About $50 million in federal aid has been left on the table by Washington students that never filed a FAFSA, according to the office of the Governor.

Spokane Public Schools says within the first month of the application being active, 30% of their students have filled it out.

“Every year 30% of families in our district fill them out in the month of October or November. and then we’re just kind of doing regular reminders, parent outreach events, individual conversations with families through the rest of the year and into the summer,” said Scott Kerwein, Executive Director of Student Success for Spokane Public Schools.

The district wants this number to go up, and wants families to know what they’re getting into.

“Within the FAFSA there’s an IRS link tool so when a family fills out their taxes then they kind of login and say this is their information and it syncs in that info to FAFSA which makes it quicker but in general I would say anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on the family situation financially,” Kerwein explained.

Within that hour, families should be able to provide their yearly earnings, a student’s earnings if they have a job, and any assets or investments the family currently has.

The FAFSA is trying to determine between the students earning any potential money having a job and the family earning money or having assets and investments, how much can the family contribute to the post-high school opportunity. and that’s what FAFSA trying to figure out

Families have until February 15th to get this done, but the sooner the form is filled out, the more money your family can qualify for.

Low and middle-income families can find that the cost of college is either completely or significantly covered after aid. State programs also support students that choose technical education or apprenticeships.

Many students ineligible for federal aid can still receive state aid, including undocumented immigrants and people that owe repayment of federal grants.

The FAFSA is complex and time-consuming, but completing it may yield a substantial reward for students planning their futures.

“The number-one thing that students can do for themselves is to sit down with their families and complete the FAFSA,” said James Miller, dean of admission at Seattle University.

Students and parents can fill out the FAFSA form here.

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