Diversity & Inclusion

It’s FAFSA time. Here’s a local resource to help your financial aid journey

If you need help paying tuition, check out Stand By Me's programs.

It's FAFSA time. (Photo by The Focal Project with Creative Commons license)

Stand By Me, a free financial coaching program powered by the State of Delaware and United Way of Delaware, is offering assistance to families looking for ways to fund postsecondary education through its student-facing program, Stand By Me NexGen.

Stand By Me NexGen partners with 43 public and charter high schools Delaware. And most importantly, it wants those schools’ students and families to know the importance of completing the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which opens its application portal in October for the following school year. FAFSA helps eligible students access federal aid, state aid and financial assistance from two- and four-year colleges, universities, and technical and trade schools.

Why does this matter? Well, in 2020, the Delaware Data Innovation Lab (DDIL) partnered TeenSHARP to see if less college counseling due to the impact of COVID-19 would lead to a drop in applications for federal college aid — and found that, indeed, fewer high school students completed FAFSA. (The pair then created a FASFA Dashboard to track completions and increase awareness.)

“Completing the FAFSA is an integral step in securing college funding. It a myth that families with higher earnings are ineligible to receive financial aid,” said Sally C. Coonin, program manager of Stand by Me NexGen, in a statement. “Financial aid is inclusive of more than just grants and loans. Many private scholarships require students to show proof of FAFSA submission as a criteria for eligibility to apply. This is why everyone should complete the FASFA.”

According to Stand By Me, millions of eligible students fail to file the FAFSA each year, and in 2018, the National College Attainment Network estimated that half of non-filers would have been eligible for Pell Grants totaling $2.6 billion.

“Partnering with Stand By Me over the past eight years has helped familiarize our families with the intimidating concepts related to college funding and helped hundreds successfully complete the FAFSA,” said aQuena Simon-Irby, a college and career counselor with Middletown High School. “We are fortunate to have Stand By Me as our primary resource in assisting families successfully navigate the college application process.”

Stand By Ne NexGen offers free public workshops and presentations, hosts events, and conducts one-on-one appointments through its College Funding Program. Online Stand By Ne NexGen seminars include:

  • Paying for College — Provides an overview of the many options available to families to pay for college. The goal is to inform students and parents about government grants, scholarships, loans and the FAFSA application process.
  • Scholarships 101 — Explores scholarship opportunities from the federal and state governments, as well as from institutions, private organizations and online sources. The goal is to inform students and parents about scholarship opportunities and the application process, and to provide essay writing tips.
  • One-on-One Zoom FAFSA Completion Appointment — A “hands-on” one-on-one session with one of Stand by Me’s FAFSA experts. Each session provides students and their families with direct assistance in completing the FAFSA form.
Companies: United Way

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