Each year, billions of dollars of available financial aid is left on the table by students and families who don’t complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Education, Heidelberg University will host FAFSA completion sites at schools and local educational service centers across northwest Ohio to help make navigating the FAFSA process a little bit easier.
On Tuesday, December 14, representatives from Heidelberg’s Financial Aid and Admission offices will host the first of several regional FAFSA Completion Nights. The Tiffin session will be from 7-8:30 p.m. at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, 928 W. Market St. While Heidelberg is hosting the event, you do not have to be applying to Heidelberg to attend. The FAFSA completion grants are a special outreach project whose objective is to help introduce as many students as possible to the FAFSA.
The FAFSA completion program – along with a recent announcement that Heidelberg will not increase its tuition rates for the 2022-23 academic year – is another in a series of initiatives by the University aimed at supporting and promoting higher education opportunities for all families.
The FAFSA is a free online application that determines financial aid eligibility for post-secondary education. Cathy Belfiore, director of Financial Aid, emphasized that “FAFSA is the key to knowing how much financial aid students are eligible for.”
“Even if you think you may not be eligible, it’s worth the time to submit the application to see what may be available to you,” Cathy said. “Some families do not complete the FAFSA because they believe it is only for students who are looking to go to college or who have been accepted already. Fortunately, that is not the case. FAFSA offers financial aid for career training as well as college. FAFSA is for everyone.”
Schools use the information calculated by the FAFSA to create students’ financial aid packages. These packages may include eligibility for federal or state grants, work-study, federal student loans and institutional aid. Some outside scholarships also request a FAFSA score to determine the amount of a student’s eligibility.
Heidelberg’s Financial Aid and Admissions teams have participated in similar FAFSA Nights for over 15 years, working with families on the benefits of completing the FAFSA and assisting with the general process of filing and understanding financial aid paperwork.
The FAFSA completion grant affords Heidelberg the opportunity to extend its outreach by providing individualized, on-site and follow-up assistance in completing the FAFSA with a goal of reaching an additional 100 schools. Sessions are targeted at first-generation and Pell-eligible students and families, but anyone is welcome to attend.
The FAFSA completion sessions will kick off with a brief group presentation of the financial aid process, followed by an opportunity for students and family to ask questions. Then the real work begins with one-on-one assistance, helping families to complete their FAFSA on-site. Heidelberg will offer follow-up opportunities as needed. Additionally, a mobile hotspot will be deployed to allow for stronger access to internet services.
Families should obtain the How to Create an FSA ID form prior to the FAFSA completion session to set up the student and parent FSA ID so they are ready to go on the day of the event. These forms can be obtained from a high school counselor, the North Central Educational Service Center, by contacting Heidelberg’s Financial Aid Office or by visiting heidelberg.edu/events/2021/fafsa-education-night.
Families should also plan to bring a laptop computer or iPad with them for the online application. Heidelberg and the North Central Educational Service Center will provide a limited number of devices for families who do not have access to a computer or IPad. The FAFSA can also be completed through the myStudentAid mobile app on a smartphone. All of these options will be covered at the event.
If you would like to participate in Tiffin’s FAFSA Completion Night, you can register at www.heidelberg.edu/FAFSATiffin. While registration is not required, it helps Heidelberg prepare for the event.
Additional sessions will be held on Jan. 11 in Marion and Jan. 26 in Mansfield.