Education News

Some Important Paperwork Can Help Pay For College

The priority deadline to apply for state programs is March 15.

financial aid workshop
Students and their families attend a financial aid workshop at Alief Elsik High School to try and get extra money to pay for college.

 

On a recent school night at Alief Elsik High in southwest Houston, Patrick Onyiah was filling out a form on a computer.

“I have these so far that I know for sure,” he told his college counselor as he scrolled down a list of potential colleges.

Alief senior Patrick Onyiah
Alief senior Patrick Onyiah fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, with the help of his counselor Heather Seidenschmidt.

He wants to study business and pre-engineering in college next year.

He’s counting on a football scholarship — and some extra help — to cover tuition.

“This is very important for me. I’m saying not everyone is blessed with a lot of money so it’s another way to help me,” he said.

He came to this workshop to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

It helps students, especially low-income students, get money for college, like Pell Grants that don’t have to be repaid.

Last year, about 1.5 million students in Texas applied.

But many people who qualify don’t apply because the paperwork can be intimidating, or they don’t know about it.

Or they worry about submitting a lot of personal financial details, said Marcus Cooper with Advise Texas, which places college counselors in high schools around the state to improve college access.

“This is kind of the biggest hurdle in most cases for families, because of the fear of the unknown, in terms of how to complete it, what’s necessary to fill it out,” Marcus said.

To help students and families, Advise Texas and other groups are holding workshops around Greater Houston.

“Number one is educating the students. A lot of the students come from homes where their parents didn’t go to college. So it’s a struggle to get that out there and get them the correct information,” said Heather Seidenschmidt, who is the Advise Texas counselor at Alief Elsik High.

“And the sooner you get it in the better because it’s first come, first serve with the money,” she said.

In Texas, the priority deadline is March 15 for students considering a state program.

To find another FAFSA workshop, visit here.

 

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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