The Office of Scholarships and Financial Assistance hosted a “FAFSA Frenzy” event Sunday to help students and Maryville area families to complete their Free Applications for Federal Student Aid.
The FAFSA must be completed each aid year by any college student seeking federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study and loans.
Director of Financial Assistance Charles Mayfield said FAFSA is also the primary source of information used by many colleges to award need-based financial aid.
According to a Northwest news release, Northwest was one of more than 183 schools and organizations hosting FAFSA Frenzy activities in 75 Missouri counties this fall to assist future and current college students who are seeking assistance with completing FAFSA.
Mayfield said this was the 15th year this event has been held at Northwest. Mayfield said attendance at Sunday’s event was lower than previous years, but more organizations have hosted similar events in the area in recent years.
“More and more high schools are asking our staff to attend their event at their school, so attendance has become much more decentralized,” Mayfield said. “The attendee count for each individual site seems lower in recent years, but the overall student impact across all sites is greater.”
Assistant Loan Coordinator Sandra Francis said another reason attendance may have been low is because many families are unaware of how soon they can begin the financial aid process.
Before 2016, according to Forbes, the FAFSA process did not begin until January, but since 2016, FAFSA is available beginning Oct. 1.
Financial Assistance Counselor Rachel Roush said these events are important because the one-on-one help provided helps take the fear out of the process for students and families.
“Nationally, filing FAFSA is sometimes cited as the second most feared process, behind filing IRS tax forms,” Mayfield said. “Since our staff have a great working knowledge of the process, we’re able to help families complete the process with less stress and in less time.”
Roush said one of the biggest issues she sees families run into is keeping track of their Federal Student Aid IDs.
“It is a pretty straightforward process to do for some, but since it is linked to your social security number, if it gets lost or locked for some reason, it can be a pretty grueling process to get fixed,” Roush said. “I think if people are able to write their IDs down, or keep them in a safe place, it would solve a lot of recurring issues.”
Mayfield said no family should have to pay for help with the financial aid process, and anyone needing help with the process can call or visit the Financial Aid Office.