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It's time to fill out the FAFSA. Here's some tips on getting it done

 Students walk through the Florida International University's Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Sydney Walsh
/
The Miami Herald
Students walk through the Florida International University's Modesto A. Maidique Campus on the first day of classes on Monday, August 22, 2022.

It’s that time of year again — time to fill out the FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid.

The form isn’t just for students applying to four-year universities — FAFSA can help you pay for community college and technical school too.

Veritza Kostovski is the director of the SmartPath Program at the nonprofit The Education Fund. She knows the forms can be confusing and says it’s important to ask for help if you need it.

“I have seen that there's a lot of misconceptions about the FAFSA. So I just want to say, it's about getting money to go to school to achieve your dreams of a postsecondary education,” Kostovski said. “So don't be afraid to take that leap and fill it out and ask for help, because there are people here that will assist and help and they want to help the students.”

Kostovski says students should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible to have the best chance of qualifying for grants from the federal government and scholarships from colleges and universities. That means getting your paperwork and identifying documents together now.

Students whose parents are undocumented can still qualify for federal aid — but students who are undocumented themselves cannot.

Still, Kostovski says even if you don’t have a social security number, you still have options for getting help paying for higher ed, including the American Dream Scholarship at Miami Dade College.

“What I suggest to the students is…to not be afraid to disclose that to their counselors. Because that's the only way that they will know that they are undocumented and that's the only way that they will be able to receive assistance,” Kostovski said.

There are also options for students who are unaccompanied minors or who are not living with a biological parent or legal guardian. If that’s you, Kostovski says it’s best to tell your school counselor or your College Assistance Program advisor so they can help with the application process.

Tips on filling out the FAFSA

  • To access the 2023-2024 FAFSA form click here
  • Check out this episode of NPR's Life Kit on how to fill out the FAFSA

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As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.
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