CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) announced today that 32.5 percent of West Virginia high school students have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2018-19 academic year, exceeding the halfway mark to the statewide goal for this year. In October 2017, CFWV announced the statewide FAFSA completion goal to have at least 63 percent of high school seniors file a FAFSA by April 15, 2018.
Filing the FAFSA is a crucial step for students who plan to attend college. Students who file the FAFSA are considered for the Federal Pell Grant, which awards up to $5,920 annually to students to cover the cost of tuition and other education expenses. Additionally, students must submit a FAFSA to apply for many in-state scholarship and grant opportunities, such as the PROMISE Scholarship, which awards up to $4,750 annually, and the West Virginia Higher Education Grant, which awards up to $2,700 annually.
So far this year, six West Virginia high schools have met the 63 percent FAFSA completion goal:
Central Catholic High School
Charleston Catholic High School
Harman Elementary/High School
Liberty High School (Raleigh)
Paw Paw High School
Weirton Madonna High School
Dr. Paul L. Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), praised seniors for meeting the halfway mark and reiterated the importance of filing.
“Our high school seniors are already halfway to meeting the statewide FAFSA completion goal for this year, demonstrating their commitment to being prepared for postsecondary education,” said Hill. “We urge any student who plans to enroll in a postsecondary education program to file the FAFSA because doing so is the first step in receiving free money for college. West Virginia has several wonderful financial aid programs that can help students continue their education debt-free, but to be considered for them, students must file a FAFSA.”
Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia (CTCS), urged students who have not yet completed a FAFSA to do so soon.
“Funds are administered on a first-come, first-served basis,” said Tucker. “Any student who plans to attend a postsecondary program, including one of West Virginia’s two- or four-year institutions, should file a FAFSA annually on or soon after October 1. Doing so will ensure students are considered for West Virginia’s in-state scholarship and grant programs as well as the Federal Pell Grant.”
March 1 is the deadline for students to submit a FAFSA to be considered for the PROMISE Scholarship, and April 15 is the deadline for students to submit the FAFSA to be considered for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program. Students who plan to pursue education or training beyond high school during the 2018-19 academic year can complete the 2018-19 FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov using their 2016 tax returns.
Staff from the Financial Aid Division at HEPC are working with college and university partners to help increase financial aid awareness throughout communities in the state. As a result, hundreds of free financial aid and FAFSA workshops are scheduled throughout the academic year. A full list of workshops is available at https://cfwvconnect.com/community-calendar.
Brian Weingart, Senior Director of Financial Aid at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, noted that free financial aid workshops happening across the state are helping nudge the number of completed FAFSAs among West Virginia seniors.
“CFWV staff members have traveled all across the state to more than 120 financial aid or FAFSA completion workshops since the FAFSA opened on October 1,” explained Weingart. “Because of simplifications to the application throughout the years, it now takes about 30 minutes or less to complete the FAFSA. In half an hour, students can apply for thousands of dollars in financial aid.”
CFWV is West Virginia’s college- and career-planning resource. The initiative is led by HEPC in partnership with CTCS, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts.