AUSTIN (KXAN) — Education advocates are trying to get the word out: the deadline for priority consideration for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in Texas is January 15, 2019, two months earlier than the deadline was last year.
For students applying for financial aid to help with their college education, the priority deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is extremely important.
The FAFSA allows students to be eligible for federal aid, state grants, and other forms of financial assistance. Priority for this money will be given to students who apply before the priority consideration deadline.
Drew Scheberle, the Vice President of talent and education at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, explained the chamber has been making a push to educate Austin-area families about this changes so that the accelerated deadline doesn’t catch them by surprise.
The chamber believes getting students financial aid is key to getting them the degrees they will ultimately need to fill the available jobs in Central Texas.
“It’ll help you with success in higher education,” Scheberle said. “So we for the last 15 years put together financial aid events throughout the region to help families fill out the unnecessarily complicated financial aid process.”
Scheberle explained that the change to the Texas deadline was made by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board in an effort to get students their financial aid packages sooner so that they have more time to make an informed decision about where they’ll pursue higher education.
In release, Raymund A, Paredes, Commissioner of Higher Education in Texas, explained that Texas has a young population, many of whom are poor.
“Too few economically disadvantaged students in Texas make it through the education pipeline to a postsecondary credential,” Paredes said. “As the accelerated priority deadline for FAFSA approaches, it is critical that we help these young people with the financial aid process to get them successfully enrolled and graduated with a certificate or degree.”
Austin, Hutto, Leander, Pflugerville, and Round Rock Independent School Districts all work with the chamber on getting students to college, Scheberle said that around 30% of students in those districts have already filled out the FAFSA.
The chamber is helping to host workshops around the Austin area to assist students as they fill out the FAFSA through December 14. Find out more about workshops going on here you at this link.
These efforts are aimed at students like Barbara Algarin, a senior at Travis High School, who will be the first in her family to attend college.
Algarin spends much of her down time on campus at the Go-Center, the high school’s college and career counseling center.
“Since I am first generation, I had to learn by myself, I didn’t have help from my parents cause they didn’t have an idea of the process,” Algarin explained.
Algarin knows she wants to be a teacher, but she also knows doing so won’t be possible for her without financial aid.
“I was really worried since I live with a single mom, I wanted to help find a way to help her pay for my education,” she said.
Algarin has already submitted her FAFSA, the counseling center told the students they were working with to have it filed by October 31 to get it out of the way.
It took Algarin a while to do it, two weeks in total, because finding the necessary financial information from her family proved more difficult than she expected.
But she says having the form filled out now gives her peace of mind.
“I think just asking for help, don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said, hoping other students don’t feel afraid to ask for a hand in getting the form filled out.
The accelerated FAFSA deadline is impacting the students Zakiyyah Kareem advises at Breakthrough Central Texas, she explained that many of the conversations they’d have with students in December during previous years are now happening in October.
Kareem advises students in the Austin area who will be the first in their families to attend college.
“Know that it’s not impossible, it’s scary but its worth it, its absolutely worth it the time and effort to do these to do your applications, to do your financial aid,” she said.
Kareem explained that the process of filing the FAFSA can be more complicated for students who haven’t finalized their list of schools to apply to and whose families don’t have their records in order.
“It can be done by January 15, that is totally OKand attainable,” Kareem said. “It just takes a lot of support from the adults in the students’ lives and then the focus of the student.”