It’s crunch time for the Financial Aid office as the FAFSA deadline has officially passed and the papers are filing in. Students at Keene State College have shown their frustration over the federal aid form and the lack of notice from the college.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid must be filled out every year in order to receive financial aid from the Federal Government.
Associate Director of Financial Aid Deborah Nichols said, “We encourage students to meet the deadline so they can receive as much aid as possible.”
Nichols said the financial aid office sent out an announcement on the MyKSC page regarding the 2016 “FAFSA Filing Day,” a day dedicated to helping students fill out the application. This year the event was hosted on Feb. 11. Nichols said she was pleased with the student outcome of 20, compared to last year’s outcome of five.
Other than the FAFSA filing day announcement, students received no other email from KSC regarding the March 1, deadline as of Feb. 26. “The federal government usually sends an email to the students, so that’s why we didn’t send one,” Nichols said. She said students are able to find more information on the financial aid webpage.
KSC sophomore Stephanie Knockenhauer said she wishes she received more notice from the college.
“If they sent out a reminder like ‘Hey the FAFSA is due soon’ I’d feel better about it,” she said, “Not everyone can make it to the filing day. I don’t know a lot of students that still check MyKSC since we switched our email system.”
Knockenhauer said her parents usually help her with the FAFSA, but would like to see more support from the school as well. “It’s just a long process – filling it out. I didn’t know how to get the help I needed,” she said.
According to FafsaDay.org, the state of Massachusetts designates a day at the beginning of the year to help students fill out the FAFSA. “College Goal Sunday” is a spin-off from “Super Bowl Sunday” as it is set the weekend after NFL playoffs and the Super bowl, on Jan. 31. While this program is not applicable in New Hampshire, there are over ten locations in Massachusetts students can receive help filling out the FAFSA on this day.
Nichols said KSC doesn’t have a specific program to help students with the FAFSA, other than the filing day. She said she has tried to set up her own “College Goal” day, but “no one showed up.”
“We’ve tried different things, and we haven’t received the response that we would have liked,” she said.
“If students are having a problem they can come to the filing day, but we’ve had students walk in and ask for help and we [fill out the paperwork] together,” Nichols said, “Usually we encourage students to make an appointment so that way we know what we’re doing, but when it gets down to crunch time and you walk in without an appointment, we will be available to help.”
Nichols said the financial aid office has step-by-step tutorials on how to fill out the FAFSA on their webpage. There are videos and information sheets to help ease the FAFSA process, according to Nichols. She said the financial aid office also has a Facebook page with “helpful hints and announcements” for students.
KSC sophomore Emily Jarka said she has never used the FAFSA video tutorial. “I didn’t know that was a thing,” she said, “But it seems helpful for students who don’t know what they’re doing.”
“I don’t know why more people don’t come [to FAFSA filing day] but it makes me cringe,” Nichols said. She said if any students have ideas about how to improve FAFSA filing, she encourages them to talk to the financial aid office. “We are more than happy to help,” she said.
MacKenzie can be contacted at email@example.com