By Jonathan Redondo & Emely Villanueva
This year, Dr. Manuel Avila (Pueblo’s College and Career Readiness Coordinator), along with some assistance, is hosting weekly FAFSA and “College Nights”. He hosts workshops every Wednesday after school in the Special Projects room to inform and educate seniors about scholarships opportunities and to help them create an “FSA” identification in order to fill out the requirements for FAFSA.
There are multiple topics to be covered within these meetings, including the following topics: college and university applications; to learn scholarship programs; scholarships for DACA and undocumented students; upcoming scholarships; and creating an FSA ID account.
Avila said, “Even though some students or parents might not have a social security number or anything of the sort, there are many ways for students to complete something like FAFSA that can help with going to college or university.”
Creating an FSA ID account is a crucial step to filling out FAFSA, which is one of Pueblo’s graduation requirements. The FSA ID account is the account in which you will access the FAFSA application. Starting this year both the parent and student will need one of these accounts.
“Parents’ jobs are much easier this year since FAFSA goes directly through their social security ID to their taxes,” said Avila.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is an application for students to receive aid from the government to fund their college or university. FAFSA rewards students who meet the requirements that demonstrate financial need to attend a college or university.
Avila stated, “My focus is to get all the students that I can, to create an FSA ID to complete FAFSA to help them graduate and find a career in their post-secondary education.”
In past years, FAFSA would open Oct. 1, but now it is opening Dec. 31. The FAFSA application is opening later this year because there have been many changes that the government wants to implement to make FAFSA shorter. FAFSA used to require students to fill out 103 questions but this year they have shortened it, and some applicants can answer as little as 18 questions on this new form.
“This is why FAFSA will go directly into your parents’ taxes instead of you doing it yourself. Because of the later open date and new changes in the system, it will be easier for students and parents,” he added.
This new form also involves the parents more in the application process. To fill out your FAFSA, the student will need to fill out around 45 questions, and then the student must invite their parent to also fill out a separate questionnaire and enter their tax information directly from the IRS.
From then, the parent will have 40 days to complete and submit the application, or the student will have to redo their own application.
Although Avila focuses on the process of FAFSA, these workshops are also if you need help with college or scholarship applications. He added that he is happy to help any student fill out any application for a post-secondary education as it fits with one of his principles of getting 99.99 percent of the senior class to have a post-secondary course.
Avila said, “Students should be checking deadlines for priority and regular decision application to make sure they are getting their application in on time.”