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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Half of Hoosiers miss out on state college aid due to late applications

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One out every two Hoosiers—more than 177,000 last year—potentially forfeits thousands of dollars in state college aid because of late financial aid paperwork.

Concerned by the growing number of students who submit their Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after Indiana’s March 10 deadline, the state of Indiana recently launched its Cash for College campaign.

“We want to send a clear message that a college education is essential and affordable,” Indiana’s higher education commissioner Teresa Lubbers said. “Financial aid resources are available to help Hoosiers complete college, but everyone must do their part by submitting the appropriate paperwork correctly and on time.”

To raise awareness about the free resources families can use to help with paying for college and the important March 10 deadline for filing the FAFSA, Learn More Indiana—a partnership of the state agencies responsible for education, financial aid and workforce development—is leading the Cash for College campaign by offering and promoting the following free resources:

FAFSA Friday, a free online event allowing students and families to ask questions about the FAFSA and chat live with financial aid experts. Accessible at www.learnmoreindiana.org/cashforcollege on Feb. 12 and 19 at noon and 6 p.m. (EST) on both days, FAFSA Friday will be moderated by students from the Starfish Initiative, the Indianapolis-based college access and mentoring program.

College Goal Sunday, a free event featuring financial aid experts who will help students file their FAFSAs. It will be held at 37 locations throughout Indiana on Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. Students who file their FAFSAs at College Goal Sunday will be entered to win $1,000 college scholarships, and one scholarship will be awarded for each site. More information on College Goal Sunday is available at www.learnmoreindiana.org/cashforcollege.

Financial aid videos, free online videos offering on-demand to information on financial aid and paying for college. Available to view and download at www.learnmoreindiana.org/cashforcollege.

FAFSA on the Web (www.fafsa.ed.gov), recently simplified with 22 fewer questions and live chat assistance, the U.S. Department of Education’s official online version of the FAFSA allows families to bypass unnecessary questions and transfer tax data already submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.

Indiana’s Guide to Paying for College, a free publication with step-by-step tips to help high school seniors apply for financial aid. Available online at www.learnmoreindiana.org/ordermaterials or by phone at (800) 992-2076.

Simple steps and checklists, grade- and audience-specific lists for students and families explain the important actions anyone can take right now to help prepare for paying for college. Available online at www.learnmoreindiana.org/cashforcollege

More ‘Cash for College’ resources

In addition to these statewide events and initiatives, schools and community groups are being encouraged to plan their own local outreach efforts. Toolkits were recently shipped to Indiana high schools, and online implementation guides for community groups are available at www.learnmoreindiana.org/cashforcollege

Every year the federal government awards $83 billion in financial aid to help American students pay for college. The state of Indiana contributes an additional $250 million in state aid. For any student to be considered, the FAFSA must be submitted correctly and on time. It is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Led by the state’s Learn More Indiana outreach partnership, Indiana’s Cash for College campaign is working to encourage Hoosier students and families to plan to pay for college. Made possible by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Indiana’s Cash for College campaign promotes practical, grade-specific steps for students to take leading up to the state’s March 10 deadline for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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