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Completing the FAFSA is a crucial step for every single student in accessing postsecondary education
Helping our students and their families with FAFSA completion is immensely important, and the tools on this website can help transform this complex task into a simple one for our young people.
Students must complete the FAFSA to be eligible for any type of aid for college. This year, The FAFSA opened on October 1st. Many colleges (including CUNY) allocate funds on a rolling, first-come-first-served basis, and so early application is key. Students who complete FAFSA are much more likely to enroll in postsecondary education. One study found that helping families to complete and submit the FAFSA increased students’ postsecondary enrollment by 29%.
Despite the importance of the FAFSA, far too many students do not complete it. It was recently reported that at least 1.7 million students do not file a FAFSA each year, because they incorrectly believe themselves to be ineligible. It has been estimated that nearly $50 million in Pell grant awards alone goes untapped by New York City students each year that would be eligible if they had only filled out their FAFSA forms.
Below is more information to help students, parents, and school-based staff with the FAFSA completion process including: Information about the NYS FAFSA Completion Data, Tips for Parents, Resources for School Staff, and Financial Aid Websites.
NYS FAFSA Completion Initiative
The FAFSA Completion Initiative is a new initiative through which the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) is partnering with state student grant agencies to allow these agencies to provide secondary schools, school districts, and certain designated entities with limited, yet important, information on student progress in completing the FAFSA form.
- To participate in this initiative, NYCDOE district schools must register for FAFSA Completion Portal. For overview of this initiative check out this presentation; for detailed instructions on how to complete registration process and set up the account, click here and here.
- For questions on the registration process, contact the HESC Helpdesk at 1-866-431-4372.
- Non-profit organizations (e.g. community based organizations, charter management organizations, etc) can join by completing, signing and submitting a Data Access and Security Agreement directly to HESC. If you have questions when completing the Agreement, email FAFSACompletioninitiative@hesc.ny.gov.
- To see where your school’s completion rates stack up across the nation, or by district, or demographic, check out FAFSA Completion by High School and School District.
1. Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Beginning October, families can complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA at the FAFSA website using the 2015 tax returns. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update your tax information to avoid lengthy verification processes. 2. Create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) on the U.S. Department of Education's (USDOE) website, a couple of days before completing your child's FAFSA (and encourage your child to create one, too). FSA IDs are personal usernames and passwords that provide individuals with access to the FSA website and can be used as a legal signature on FAFSAs. Students and parents will need their FSA IDs to submit their FAFSAs online, and it may take up to three days before they can use their FSA IDs. Once you and your child have signed up for FSA IDs, remember to keep a record of both new usernames and password in a safe place--your FSA ID will remain with you and your child for life. 3. Attend a FAFSA completion event at your child's school, or find a FAFSA completion event in your neighborhood. Parents may learn about upcoming FAFSA events here. To be as prepared as possible, parents should review the necessary documents needed to complete the FAFSA, please visit here and here.
4. Carefully read all questions, and pay attention to details when entering your information on your child's FAFSA. In particular, double-check the accuracy of Social Security Numbers, Dates of Birth, and Names. Errors can delay FAFSA processing times. Keep in mind that if you are unsure about how to answer a question, click on the question and then review the “Help and Hints” sections that are located on the right side of each FAFSA entry page, as they provide useful information.
5. Unsure about what and whose parental information and documentation will be needed to complete your child's FAFSA? Review questions on dependency status and parental documentation here.
School Staff: Get the help you need to help your students!
- Have questions about FAFSA early October 1st launch? Check out this infographic and toolkit from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
- For sample PowerPoints, flyers, webinars, checklists and other site coordinator resources check out the following toolkits from USDOE and NYS HESC.
- Check out these presentations on 2017-18 Federal & NYS FAFSA updates and Special Circumstances & Professional Judgement.
- "Ask an Adviser" to get real-time answers to your financial aid questions from an expert at NYC College Line.
- Order brochures, posters, pamphlets and other publications here. USDOE will ship desired quantities to your school for free.
Searching and Applying for Scholarships
A scholarship is a financial award given to help students pursue education, and does not need to be paid back. Encourage your student to search, and apply for scholarships for which they are an eligible candidate! Below are some resources to help students apply for scholarships:
- Scholarship Applications: To make applying easier, consider using Scholar Snapp a website that allows students to create a profile which can be used to submit multiple scholarship applications. For more information, visit Scholarsnapp.org.
- Scholarship Essays: Visit Story2's award-winning writing platform, Essay Builder, for help writing a scholarship essay! Using a step-by-step online process, students transform spoken stories into authentic admissions and scholarship essays in their own voice. Normally a paid service, Story2.com is providing FREE access for ALL New York students.
Financial Aid Websites
- Scholarship for Undocumented Students- The Dream.US provides college scholarships for DREAMers who need financial support to achieve an associate's or bachelor's degree. The scholarship will help cover tuition and fees at one of the Partner Colleges, which include CUNY schools. Application deadline is November 15, 2016 - March 8, 2017. For more information about financial aid for undocumented students visit Federal Student Aid document and Scholarships Open to Undocumented Students.
- FAFSA.ed.gov: USDOE’s website for completing the FAFSA application.
- Studentaid.ed.gov: for information on types of financial aid, financial aid eligibility, applying for financial aid, and student loans.
- Startheregetthere: HESC’s website for student checklists, resources for facilitating FAFSA completion event at your school, and much more.
- Collegegoalny.org: Free FAFSA completion events across New York State that help students and families complete financial aid forms.
- Collegescorecard.ed.gov: Search for the perfect college that matches your goals, finances, and needs.
- NYCcollegeline.org: Tips on completing FAFSA and scholarship information for NYC students.
- BigFuture: College Board’s website to get facts on college costs, a financial aid checklist, tips, and more, provided by the higher-education non-profit College Board.
Stay involved in the nationwide dialogue by engaging in social media about Financial Aid Awareness Month
Be social! Join the online conversation! We are celebrating Financial Aid Awareness Month on social media and we want you to join us.
Does your school have Twitter or Facebook profiles? Financial Aid Awareness Month can be a good opportunity to connect with students and families. Before creating a social media profile for your school, learn about NYC DOE Social Media Guidelines.
2. Follow us on Twitter. Use our handles to mention/tag us on your tweets:
3. Join the conversation using our hashtag: #CollegeAccessforAll. Tag your social posts so others can easily find and share your content.
4. We want to see your #CollegeAccessforAll pictures/videos! Tag your photos with #CollegeAccessforAll or @NYCschools for your opportunity to be shared. 5.
If your school is not on Facebook or Twitter, please send photos and caption to Kaity Modesto at Kmodesto@schools.nyc.gov
and we will share on official NYCDOE social media. Don’t forget to collect media consent form
if you haven’t already.
6. Feel free to use and adapt any of the sample tweets and Facebook posts here. Retweet us from our NYDOE official Twitter account @NYCSchools and share our posts from our official Facebook page.