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Fall for Fafsa: Vermont’s October challenge
Fast, easier filing means more financial aid for Vermonters
ESSEX (October 3, 2016) – Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) kicked off Vermont’s October campaign to file the Fafsa, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid at the Center for Technology in Essex, highlighting important changes to help students and families apply for financial aid.
Welch authored legislation that ultimately led to the White House simplifying the federal form earlier this year. Two major changes – making the Fafsa available three months earlier, beginning Oct. 1, and using last year’s tax returns – means families will have a an earlier starting point to make education more affordable.
“This is key because when you file early, you find out what financial aid you are eligible for and that gives you solid information to compare costs between schools or colleges you’re thinking about,” Welch said. “It puts students and families in a better position to choose the best fit for their education goals – and their pocketbook.”
Governor Peter Shumlin who announced the statewide challenge, “Fall for Fafsa,” said Fafsa changes help put the focus on preparing Vermonters with skills and education that ultimately lead to better career opportunities.
“Vermonters will need to continue their education after high school if they are to be qualified for the majority of careers in Vermont’s new economy. There are financial resources available and VSAC is here to help Vermonters get the costs of their education covered. It begins with the Fafsa. And now it begins in October.”
The administration, led by Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe, is being joined by Congressman Welch and the Vermont delegation, VSAC, Vermont State Colleges and University of Vermont to dedicate the month to helping students and families file a Fafsa early.
“For years, the increasing cost of college has resulted in far too many qualified high school students deciding against attending college,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a joint statement. “We must do a better job making the financial aid process easier and more convenient so that all young people know that a higher education is within their reach. The recent changes to simplify access to financial aid, and VSAC’s efforts to make sure every Vermont student and family knows about the changes, are important steps toward reaching that goal. We are committed to fighting for higher education reform in Congress to make sure that every high school student who has the desire and the ability can attend college, career school, or graduate school without being buried under a mountain of unsustainable debt.”
After students finish their Fafsa, they can quickly apply for a Vermont state grant, which is available for full-time, part-time and nondegree study, said Scott Giles, VSAC president and CEO.
And some Vermont institutions are offering their own exceptional incentives to motivate students to take the 20 or 30 minutes to file their Fafsa in October, Giles said.
“For every Vermonter who completes the Fafsa by October 31, there’s an opportunity to win a special October Fafsa scholarship if the student attends one of these Vermont schools: Castleton University, Champlain College, Community College of Vermont, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Saint Michael’s College, Sterling College, University of Vermont and Vermont Technical College. I thank them for this commitment to Vermonters.”
VSAC is hosting workshops on paying for college and filling out financial aid forms at 60-plus high schools around the state, now through January, Giles said. Locations and dates are available at www.vsac.org.
Giles also highlighted other events planned for the month-long Fafsa effort:
During the week of Oct. 17-21, VSAC and campuses around the state will host free, walk-in assistance during business hours to families in their communities if they have questions on the Fafsa. Participating are Castleton University, Champlain College, Community College of Vermont, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Saint Michael’s College, School for International Training, Sterling College, University of Vermont and Vermont Technical College.
Then, on Oct. 18-20, from 5 to 8 p.m. VSAC is hosting evening call-in hours for parents and students, with VSAC counselors available to answer questions. The toll-free number to call is: 800-642-3177.
Just over half of Vermont students file a Fafsa, Holcombe said. “The purpose of today is to reinforce that completing the Fafsa form must be part of every student’s plan for paying for college. For some, Fafsa will be the difference between getting or not getting a credential that leads to a good job with a good wage,” Holcombe said.
Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of Vermont State Colleges, said pursuing education and training offer outstanding opportunities for Vermonters to achieve their personal and professional goals.
“Education and training after high school is the single-most important investment a person can make in his or her future,” Spaulding said. “Access to higher education is an essential component of reversing income inequality and creating career opportunities that will last a lifetime.”
About VSAC – Changing Lives through Education and Training since 1965
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit agency established by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters achieve their education and training goals after high school. VSAC serves students and their families in grades 7-12, as well as adults returning to school, by providing education and career planning services, need-based grants, scholarships and education loans. VSAC has awarded more than $600 million in grants and scholarships for Vermont students, and also administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan. Find us at www.vsac.org or check in on Facebook and Twitter. #changing lives