FAFSA encourages Hoosiers to take advantage of their financial aid opportunities


April 15 is the priority deadline for those interested in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.

Despite being a free resource, Hoosiers are not utilizing this resource to its fullest. According to Learn More Indiana, as of March 22, Indiana ranks 26 out of the 50 states with 32.6% of seniors applying. On March 15, Indiana had ranked 27.

Allison Kuehr, the associate commissioner for marketing and communications for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, said there are several reasons for the low application rate.

For the 2024-2025 applications, there were some specific issues that affected the process, she said.

The FAFSA was released significantly later than usual, coming out Dec. 30 of last year rather than Oct. 1.

Along with the late launch date, there was a total overhaul of the old application to simplify how students go about its completion. Instead of taking close to an hour filling it out, students were only working on it for minutes.

This change was seen as a positive, but with it came snags, such as problems with making corrections to the applications.

Kuehr said those issues have now been resolved.

As of March 22, Seymour’s statistics for seniors completing the FAFSA are 33.1%, just under one-third, while the change year-over-year is -32.6%.

Nationally, Indiana’s year-to-year ranking is at the top of the list with a decrease of just 17.9% seniors applying.

Through FAFSA, there are three types of aid you can qualify for based on financial needs: state, federal and institutional aid.

State financial aid includes 21st Century Scholarships and the Frank O’Bannon Grant while federal financial aid includes the Pell Grant; and institutional aid includes scholarships and programs offered through schools, colleges, and universities.

Kuehr encourages students to take advantage of all the help available through completing the FAFSA.

In Indiana, there are eight outreach coordinators ready to help, and Jackson County’s coordinator is Heather Cooper. She is in charge of the state’s southeast regions.

INvestEd is a local nonprofit that can also help with completing the FAFSA, offering additional services in Spanish for Spanish-speaking Hoosiers. Finally, the U.S. Department of Education also offers chat systems and ways to answer questions if you still need access to assistance.

While April 15 is the priority deadline, that does not mean application submissions will be closed. Students can still submit after the due date, but it is encouraged to get your application sent as soon as possible. Submitting your application sooner allows you to maximize the amount of financial aid you can receive, but you can still get help submitting late.

There are many ways for Hoosiers to receive help, if they are aware of it and reach out. The more we can spread the better,” Kuehr said. It is never too late to learn more and apply.”

For information, visit.ncan.org/page/fafsatracker or investedindiana.org/events/.

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