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First Lady highlights importance of FAFSA


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Millions of students across the country rely on financial aid to help them realize their college ambitions. Every year, young people who are preparing for college and their parents begin the often daunting task of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about the importance of the FAFSA and provided examples of how financial aid had transformed her life.

Relating experiences
Speaking at a FAFSA Workshop at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., Obama recalled her own experiences of the college preparation process. She highlighted how important the financial aid she received as a result of completing the FAFSA had been to her career goals.

"As you guys are demonstrating by being here today, FAFSA is quick, it's easy, it's free, and it can help you access the thousands of dollars to help you and your family pay for college," said Obama. "You don't have to be the valedictorian. You don't have to major in a certain subject.  You don't even have to be at the very bottom of the income ladder to receive the money.  Almost everyone is eligible for some form of financial aid, and all you have to do to access that aid is fill out this one little form."

Dispelling myths
According to Reuters, the FAFSA Workshop was part of a wider college financial aid initiative currently being promoted by the Obama administration to raise awareness of the various types of support that are available to college-bound students.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that only around half of high school seniors completed the FAFSA last year. That means many students are missing the opportunity to attend college by, as Obama stated, leaving "money on the table." The news source reported that misconceptions about the perceived complexity of the financial aid application may deter students from completing the FAFSA, which can in turn hamper their future earning potential and career prospects.

"There is compelling evidence that getting help with that form and filing the FAFSA can increase college attendance," William Doyle a professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University, told the news source. "It's particularly important to establish early the awareness of financial aid."

To get the word out about the importance of the FAFSA, the First Lady announced that Viacom stations MTV, BET and Nickelodeon will run spots promoting the FAFSA and students can use the Google Helpouts platform to access free one-on-one  FAFSA advice.

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