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Missing out on money

By LEANA CHOATE - lchoate@newsexaminer.com

High school students in Indiana -- and Connersville -- are falling behind when it comes to filing their FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Because of that, they are missing out on getting more help paying for college.

FAFSA determines high school students’ eligibility for student financial aid that can pay for or help pay college costs.

According to learnmoreindiana.org/educators/fafsa-completion-rankings/, only 49.9 percent of Indiana high school students are filling out their FAFSA. The website includes data from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

At Connersville High School, only 30 percent of students are filling out the form. FAFSA can help students and their families pay for college, and make it easier to afford and pay educational expenses such tuition and other fees, books and materials and living situations.

“Knowing about 55-65 percent of Connersville High School students will likely attend college next year, we are about halfway where we need to be, if the Commission says only currently 30 percent of our students have completed the FAFSA,” Kimberly Corsaro, assistant superintendent of learning at Fayette County School Corporation, said. 

College enrollment has declined across the United States, Corsaro said, because the increase of cost and the push for more skilled trade positions have become more popular than attending a two or four year college.

Filling out the FAFSA requires students to use their parents’ income tax information.

“No matter how we push the students to complete the FAFSA, they cannot complete the process without the income data from their parents,” Corsaro said.

Students also don’t fill out FAFSA because many go directly into the workforce or into the miiltary after high school. 

Corsaro said the high school has placed information for filling out FAFSA on the guidance webpage and had an Indiana University Easy workshop on FASFA in February.

“Counselors used the October 9th parent conference day to meet/help parents with FAFSA and had financial aid representatives from IU East there to assist and answer questions,” Corsaro said.

The deadline for students to fill out their FAFSA is Monday. The application is free and can be filled out at studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.

Documents needed to fill out the FAFSA are

n Social Security number

n Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen)

n Federal income tax returns, W-2s or other records of money that has been earned (students need to use their parents’ tax returns).