Reston, Va., Feb. 1, 2010 — With federal financial aid application deadlines looming for more than 18 million college-bound students, Sallie Mae announces "FAFSA February," a public service initiative to help demystify the often confusing and universally dreaded ritual of completing the FAFSA.
Families can access new, free online tools to help them hit the submit button on the all-important aid application. They can also chat with a FAFSA expert and enter a drawing to win a total of $10,000 in college savings.
In three brief how-to videos, available through Sallie Mae’s FAFSA February Resource Center at www.SallieMae.com/FAFSA, college-bound students and parents can learn what documents they need to complete the aid form, get answers to the most commonly asked questions, and explore next steps in the financial aid process. Families may also download free FAFSA tips to guide them through the process.
“A common misconception about financial aid is that only certain students qualify,” said Barbara O’Brien, Sallie Mae’s director of high school outreach, who conducts financial aid workshops for families. “In reality, virtually every U.S. citizen attending an accredited college is eligible for some kind of financial aid—a grant or a low-cost student loan—you just have to apply for it.”
Experts will also answer frequently asked questions about the FAFSA on Thursday night, Feb. 11, from 9 to 10 p.m. EST. To pose a question in advance or join the live chat, visit www.SallieMae.com/FAFSA.
To help spread the word about the importance of completing this financial aid application and the availability of financial aid, Sallie Mae is conducting the FAFSA College Savings $10,000 Giveaway. Eligible college-bound students, or parents on the student’s behalf, visiting the FAFSA February Resource Center may enter to win the drawing.* The Gold medalist will win $6,000, Silver will win $3,000, and Bronze will win $1,000 in money for college. Prizes will be deposited into the winner’s Upromise rewards account, where winners can continue to earn cash rewards for college.
Sallie Mae’s FAFSA February Resource Center is available free to anyone at SallieMae.com/FAFSA.
According to a national study from Sallie Mae and Gallup, How America Pays for College,
24 percent of families did not complete the FAFSA last academic year. Half said they did not complete the form because they were not aware or did not think they would qualify for aid.
Sallie Mae recommends students follow the “1-2-3 approach” to paying for college: first, use free money by filling out the FAFSA to access need-based grants and research and apply for scholarships, supplemented with current income and savings. Second, explore federal loans. Third, fill any gap by using a pay-interest-as-you-go private education loan. For example, Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan helps ensure that what a student originally borrowed is all he owes at graduation.
*No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited by law. For official rules, visit www.SallieMae.com/FAFSA.