Join @FAFSA for #AskFAFSA Office Hours with Career Expert, Lindsey Pollak

In honor of National Financial Literacy Month, @FAFSA will hold a special #AskFAFSA Office Hours with guest host Lindsey Pollak, a bestselling author, keynote speaker and internationally recognized expert on next generation career trends.

We’re excited to have Lindsey join us at such an important time. Not only is it National Financial Literacy Month, but with graduation season a short time away, Federal Student Aid wants to help students think about getting a job, earning a salary, and of course, repaying student loans.

This month, we’re switching things up a bit. Instead of our traditional #AskFAFSA Office Hours, on April 25th at 4pm ET, Lindsey (@LindseyPollak) will join @FAFSA for a “Twitterview”, or an interview on Twitter. We’ll ask Lindsey for advice on researching and applying for jobs and @FAFSA will give you information and tips for managing and repaying your student loans after graduation.

Before the Twitterview, we need your help coming up with questions for Lindsey! Whether you have questions about finding a job you’ll really love or making your student loan payments more affordable, we want to hear about it.

Here’s how it works:

  • Starting today, you can send us your career and loan repayment questions on Twitter. Make sure to include the #AskFAFSA hashtag in your tweet.
  • On April 25th at 4pm ET, tune into the live event by following the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter.
  • At the end of the hour, Lindsey will answer questions from our virtual audience. You can send your questions to @FAFSA starting today.
  • Can’t make the live session? A summary of the “Twitterview”, including the full Q&A, will be posted on the Storify and the ED.gov blog following the event.

We hope you’ll join us on April 25. In the meantime, check out these 40 money management tips every college student should know (pdf).

ED Celebrates National Financial Literacy Month

Financial literacy plays an important role in promoting the financial health and stability of individuals, families, and our national economy. The economic crisis has highlighted how essential it is to have information, education, and tools to help people make informed financial decisions.

Piggy BankIn honor of National Financial Literacy Month, experts from federal and state agencies and nonprofit, educational, and private sector organizations will be providing valuable resources to help Americans improve understanding of their personal finances throughout the month of April.

In support of this effort, The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid plans to provide daily financial management advice for students and borrowers on Twitter. Over the course of April, you can follow @FAFSA  for information and resources on being financially savvy at all stages of your education.

Here are some topics we’ll discuss:

PREPARING

    • Types of financial aid
    • Comparing financial aid packages

APPLYING FOR AID

    • Completing the FAFSA
    • IRS Data Retrieval Tool

RECEIVING AID

    • Maintaining your financial aid
    • Keeping track of your student loans

REPAYMENT

    • Know what you owe
    • Flexible repayment options

We will close out the month by hosting our April edition of #AskFAFSA Office Hours which will focus on financial literacy topics.

We encourage you to join the conversation. Starting now, if you have advice or tips for ways students and borrowers can be smart about their finances, share them with us using the hashtag #dollarsense. We look forward to hearing from you!

Elizabeth Coogan is the Senior Advisor for Financial Literacy at Federal Student Aid

@RuralED’s John White Answers Questions During #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter

Did you know that completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) increases the likelihood that a student will enroll in some form of post-secondary education?

Students in rural communities are least likely to enroll and complete postsecondary education and career training. In an effort to help rural youth and adults with the financial aid process, I hosted #AskFAFSA Office Hours live on Twitter last night. The audience definitely kept us busy! ED’s Rural Outreach Team and the FAFSA Team worked together to get the audience’s toughest financial aid questions answered.

We had some great questions come in on a variety of topics:

Completing the FAFSA

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FAFSA Completion Project Expands: Targets Single High School LEAs and Rural Districts

In 2010, the Department of Education piloted a FAFSA Completion Project to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) and secondary school administrators in determining which of their students have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming school year.  The pilot currently provides principals, counselors and college access professionals across 20 participating school districts and high schools with verifiable and actionable information to use in increasing FAFSA completion among their student population.  Key studies have indicated that FAFSA completion correlates strongly with college enrollment, particularly among low-income populations.

Since the FAFSA Completion Project’s launch, the Department has received increasing requests from LEAs and secondary schools to expand the program.  Today, the Secretary announced the second phase of an expansion effort to provide additional school districts with student-specific FAFSA completion data.  Today’s announcement invites an additional 12 single-high-school LEAs, including single-high-school, rural LEAs, to participate via random selection in the program and obtain FAFSA completion data for their students for the 2012-2013 FAFSA processing year that began on January 1, 2012.  An invitation for multiple-high school LEAs to participate in the expansion effort was announced in January and closed earlier this month.

The Department will accept requests from single-high-school LEAs to participate in the pilot expansion through May 1, 2012.  For more information on this opportunity, view the invitation letter (pdf) and visit our frequently asked questions portal at www.fsa4counselors.ed.gov.

#AskFAFSA Hours with @RuralED’s John White

For students in rural areas who may need help paying for college, it’s important that you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.)

FAFSAWe understand the financial aid process can often be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never gone through it before. That’s why the @RuralED team wants to know what questions you have about the financial aid process and the FAFSA.

On March 27th at 6pm EST, @RuralED & @FAFSA will be hosting Office Hours live on Twitter to answer all your financial aid questions – especially the tough ones!

Here’s how it works:

    • Follow @FAFSA & @RuralED on Twitter for information and tips.
    • Start submitting your questions today using the hashtag #AskFAFSA. We’ll continue to take questions throughout the week.
    • On March 27th at 6pm EST, the FAFSA team and I will be on hand to answer your #AskFAFSA questions on Twitter. Follow the Q&A live through the @RuralED and @FAFSA Twitter accounts.

If you can’t make the live session, a summary of the live chat including the full Q&A will be posted on the ED.gov blog following the event.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the form to fill out in order to apply for student grants, work-study, and loans. To receive federal student aid for the 2012-13 school year, you must complete the 2012-13 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.  Some financial aid is first-come, first-served, so we encourage all potential and returning students to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Remember, four-year colleges and universities aren’t the only schools that accept the FAFSA. Community colleges, trade schools nursing schools, online schools, and career schools do too.  So check your FAFSA deadline and complete the FAFSA today: www.fafsa.gov

John White is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach

Note to schools: Did you know that you can now access FAFSA submission and completion data for your school? 

New Tool Helps High Schools Boost FAFSA Completions

As the cost of college continues to increase, financial aid becomes ever more important. While many factors are involved in the decision to attend college, there is a strong correlation between FAFSA completion and college enrollment.

FAFSAPreviously, high schools relied on self-reported surveys to estimate their FAFSA completion rate and that data can be inaccurate. For this reason, Federal Student Aid is providing high schools with current data about their FAFSA submissions and completions so that high schools can track their progress and help to ensure that their students complete a FAFSA. A completed FAFSA allows the Department to determine a potential student’s eligibility for federal student aid – a key factor in families’ college decisions.

The data included in the attached charts reflect the number of submitted and completed FAFSAs among applicants no older than 18 who will have received their high school diploma by the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The data is displayed in spreadsheets broken down by state that include the school name and city of the high school. Learn more about the data assumptions and view frequently asked questions.

Click here to access FAFSA submission and completion data for every high school.

#AskFAFSA Office Hours with Loyola New Orleans’ Cathy Simoneaux

Ed. Note: Cathy Simoneaux is the Director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at Loyola University New Orleans

To celebrate Financial Aid Awareness Month, I hosted @FAFSA’s February #AskFAFSA Office Hours last night. Many students took advantage of the extra day they got this leap year by asking questions about the financial aid process and participating in the discussion with @FAFSA and @loynofinaid live on Twitter.

February is one of the busiest times in financial aid offices across the country, because many school and state FAFSA deadlines occur in February and March. February is also one of the most popular times to complete school financial aid applications (which include the FAFSA), so as you can imagine, I had no shortage of questions to answer.

Deadlines

There are many state deadlines approaching. In fact, if you live in Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma or Rhode Island, your deadline is today (and you’re tomorrow, California). It is important to be mindful of both your state AND school financial aid deadlines. Find out which deadline is earlier and complete your FAFSA before that date. But remember, some aid is first-come, first-served, so it’s best to complete your FAFSA today at www.fafsa.gov.

https://twitter.com/#!/xLadyDreezy/status/173126905984319488

Who Gets Aid

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Financial Aid Awareness Month: Join ED for February #AskFAFSA Office Hours

It is an especially exciting time for us here at Federal Student Aid because February is Financial Aid Awareness Month. With many state financial aid deadlines approaching, now is a great time to complete that FAFSA you’ve been putting off.

FAFSATo help answer your financial aid questions, Cathy Simoneaux (@loynofinaid), The Director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at Loyola University New Orleans, will host this month’s #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter. She may be off celebrating Mardi Gras now, but on February 29th at 6pm EST, you’ll have her undivided attention as she joins @FAFSA on Twitter to answer your toughest financial aid questions.

Here’s how it works:

    • Follow @FAFSA and @loynofinaid for financial aid information and tips
    • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter using the hashtag #AskFAFSA.
      • Sample tweet: “How do I apply for a Pell Grant? #AskFAFSA”
    • On February 29th at 6pm EST, follow the Q&A live through the @FAFSA & @loynofinaid Twitter accounts
    • Can’t make the live session? A summary of the live chat, including the full Q&A, will be posted on the ED.gov blog following the event.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the form to fill out in order to apply for student grants, work-study, and loans. To receive federal student aid for the 2012-13 school year, you must complete the 2012-13 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov. Some financial aid is first-come, first-served, so we encourage all potential and returning students to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Since our last #AskFAFSA Office Hours, we have launched the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which allows you to transfer your tax information directly from the IRS into your FAFSA, making the form easier than ever to complete.

We know the financial aid office can be busy at this time of year, so skip the line by joining us on Twitter, February 29th at 6pm EST. Remember, you can complete the FAFSA online today at www.fafsa.gov.

Federal Student Aid New Media Team

#AskFAFSA Office Hours with ED’s Martha Kanter

With many schools’ FAFSA deadlines quickly approaching, FAFSA season is heating up. Last night, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter took to Twitter to answer some pressing questions students & parents had about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Using the hashtag #AskFAFSA, Martha answered more than 20 questions over the course of the hour. She addressed:

Who Gets Aid

Tax Questions

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How Will You Pay for College?

If you need help paying for college, Federal Student Aid can help.  Each year, Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides more than $150 billion in higher education grants and loans to students attending college—but to qualify, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FAFSAThe FAFSA is used for all federal grants and loans as well as for many state and institutional student aid programs.  Remember, applying is FREE and there is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid.  However, some aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis so it is important to apply early.

You can complete the FAFSA for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year now at www.fafsa.gov.  The online application is the quickest and easiest way to apply for aid.

The online application minimizes the number of questions you must complete by using your responses to eliminate additional questions that do not apply to you.  It also allows you to retrieve your tax information directly from the IRS to populate many of the financial questions on the FAFSA.  These improvements have helped reduce the average time it takes to complete the FAFSA by one third, from 33 minutes to 22 minutes.

In order to help you make informed decisions about college, the online FAFSA also provides you with important information about the schools you may be interested in attending, includ­ing school type, tuition costs, and net price, as well as graduation, retention, and transfer rates.  The FAFSA website also offers information on the financial aid process and explains the various types of federal student aid available.

If you have questions when completing your FAFSA, we have lots of help available through our Contact Us page on www.fafsa.gov.  You can contact us by:

    • Using Live Help, a secure online chat session where you can ask our customer service representatives a question;
    • Calling 1‑800‑4‑FED‑AID (1‑800‑433‑3243) or 319‑337‑5665; or
    • E-mailing us at FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov or through our online question form.

You can also follow us on our new Twitter handle @FAFSA to get the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about completing the FAFSA.  Or, you may want to attend our FAFSA Twitter town hall on January 26 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time to have your FAFSA questions answered live by the U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter.

We are looking forward to receiving your FAFSA soon.  To learn more, please visit www.fafsa.gov.

James Runcie

James Runcie is Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid

Minnesota Town Halls Focus on College Affordability and FAFSA

Secretary Duncan speaks at a town hall

Secretary Duncan at South High School. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams

Secretary Duncan travelled to the Minneapolis area last Friday to host two town hall meetings with teachers, parents, students, and national, state and local leaders. Arne started the day speaking with students at South High School in Minneapolis about the importance of higher education and college affordability. “College isn’t just for the rich or someone else,” he said. “We need to raise expectations so all students know college is within their reach.”

The Obama Administration has taken extraordinary steps to make it easier for students to get financial aid and understand the true cost of college, including:

    • The biggest investment in college since the G.I. Bill
    • $40 billion for Pell Grants
    • Simplifying the FAFSA
    • Pay as you Earn” income-based repayment
    • Know Before You Owe” financial aid shopping sheet

Duncan also announced the launch of the @FAFSA Twitter account, and explained how important it is that students fill out the FAFSA. For many students who think that higher education is out of reach, the FAFSA will explain many of available aid and loans that can help a student pay for college.

Click here to get started on the 2012 FAFSA.

FAFSA Completion Project Expands

The FAFSA is the first step in helping students pay for college. The new form is simple, makes sense and is easy to complete.” – Arne Duncan

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the expansion of an innovative pilot project to increase the number of students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in selected districts.

The one-year-old pilot project will be expanding to an additional 92 school districts, helping identify students who need to complete the FAFSA.

Research indicates that 90 percent of students who complete the FAFSA will enroll in postsecondary education.

Through the pilot project, participating districts will have access to FAFSA completion data and give students information about how to pursue a college education.

ED will be accepting applications for the pilot project until March 2. For details, see this announcement.