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DOE wants more families to apply for college aid

HONOLULU — The state Department of Education is launching a campaign to boost the number of Hawaii students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a critical component needed for students to receive financial aid and scholarships for college.

Last year, Hawaii left $10 million in unclaimed federal Pell Grants on the table — enough to send roughly 2,500 students to a University of Hawaii community college tuition-free.

FAFSA is used by the federal government, states, colleges and scholarship organizations to determine eligibility for both need-based and merit-based financial aid, such as federal and state grants, scholarships, student loans and work-study programs.

To qualify for these types of financial aid, students are often required to complete the FAFSA.

Each year in Hawaii, over $70 million in scholarships and grants are awarded to help students attend college, regardless of family income. Even if a student doesn’t qualify for need-based aid, meaning their family has a take-home salary that does not reflect need, many private scholarships still require a completed FAFSA as part of their screening for competitive scholarships.

“Data shows FAFSA completion rates translate directly to increased college enrollment,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. “Ninety percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA attend college directly from high school, compared to just 55 percent for those who don’t.”

Source: The Garden Island

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