The date for the openings of FAFSA to assist financially in the fall of 2019 had opened on October 1 2018, and the number of spots for financial assistance are dwindling down. Although it may be a little late for this coming fall, students could look towards the next year to apply for FAFSA.
“Students should fill out the forms as soon as it opens, so October 1, every year. It’s a first come, first serve basis,” Britney Esparza, a College Access and Success Advisor at San Antonio Educational Partnership said.
FAFSA forms allow the government to give financial assistance to students who plan on going to college and believe that they need help to pay for it, but not all students take advantage of the opportunity.
“Usually we have students that don’t come in and it sometimes isn’t just students but families who don’t like to come in and fill FAFSA forms, just because it’s a lot of information they do need and it’s a long process,” Esparza said. “I know there are eight steps into doing it. When filling out FAFSA form, it does ask the basics of the students’ demographic, your school selections, family income, family information so then the government knows how to help you. That’s why students don’t typically come to me because it does seem hard to get all of that information but that’s why I’m here, to go step by step to get all the information and paperwork to get it all completed.”
The typical assumption for students is that only those in a financial crisis will benefit from the forms, but that is not always the case.
“Any student planning on going to college or is going to college will benefit from these forms. Anyone who thinks they need that push and help to get into college and pay for it. Anyone who knows they need help to pay for college will benefit,” Esparza said.
There are students that wouldn’t benefit from FAFSA forms, but even those students have opportunities to get financial aid for college.
“People who wouldn’t benefit from FAFSA forms would be students who are not documented. There is another form, called TASFA. That’s the state funds,” Esparza said. “That’s what we want those students to fill out. Usually we’ll tell them not to fill out FAFSA, but to fill out TASFA, which is state funded.”
There are certain requirements to fill out TASFA, but it is still very helpful for those in need.
“FAFSA forms are for US citizens and if you are not a US citizen, then you will have to fill out TASFA. For TASFA , you will have to be in Texas for three years before applying. FAFSA is online and TASFA is on paper, but it’s the same form,” Esparza said.
From a personal standpoint, Esparza is a big supporter and encourager of FAFSA.
“I recommend FAFSA forms because personally, it helped me pay for school. I was fortunate to have money left over so I was able to pay for books. I was able to pay for school supplies that I needed or pay for gas. I did find a job, of course, but that extra money did help a lot. I put it in my saving to help me with emergencies if I had any,” Esparza said.
FAFSA does not just give typical loans.
“Not only can you get grants, which is that money you don’t have to pay back but sometimes they will give you specific loans,” Esparza said. “It’s beneficial because it helps you and at this time, people should take all the help they can get.”