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College Foundation of West Virginia sets goal for statewide FAFSA completion

Statewide efforts will encourage at least 63 percent of high school seniors to file a FAFSA by April 15, 2019

The Free Press WV

High school students should plan now to complete college financial aid applications if they wish to become eligible for state and federal grants and student aid, like the PROMISE Scholarship and federal Pell Grant.

College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) announced a goal to have at least 63 percent of West Virginia high school seniors complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by April 15, 2019.

The FAFSA is the application that students must complete to apply to receive financial aid for college. Students who file the FAFSA are considered for a number of state- and federal-level financial aid programs, such as West Virginia’s PROMISE Scholarship, which awards up to $4,750 annually, and the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program, which awards up to $2,700 annually. Students are also considered for the federal Pell Grant, which awards up to $6,095 annually to qualifying students.

Last year, the following schools met or exceeded the 63 percent FAFSA completion goal by the April 15, 2018 deadline:

  • Bluefield High School
  • Bridgeport High School
  • Buffalo High School
  • Central Catholic High School
  • Charleston Catholic High School
  • Doddridge County High School
  • East Fairmont High School
  • Faith Christian Academy
  • George Washington High School
  • Harman Elementary/High School
  • Hurricane High School
  • Liberty High School – Raleigh
  • Midland Trail High School
  • Mingo Central High School
  • Montcalm High School
  • Morgantown High School
  • Nicholas County High School
  • Paden City High School
  • Paw Paw High School
  • Ravenswood High School
  • Saint Albans High School
  • Scott High School
  • St. Marys High School
  • Summers County High School
  • Teays Valley Christian School
  • Tug Valley High School
  • Union Educational Complex
  • University High School
  • Weirton Madonna High School
  • Wheeling Park High School
  • Williamstown High School
  • Winfield High School

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) manages the College Foundation of West Virginia initiative. Carolyn Long, Interim Chancellor of the Commission, expressed her desire that every student in the class of 2019 file a FAFSA.

“A lot of students may not realize just how many forms of financial aid become available to them upon filing the FAFSA,” said Long. “By completing the application, a huge pool of money opens up, and many of these forms of financial aid, like grants and scholarships, don’t have to be repaid. Easing the financial burden can help students focus more on their studies and less on how to pay for college.”

Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS), issued a reminder to students that they cannot receive many forms of financial aid until they complete the FAFSA.

“Last academic year, students who attended one of West Virginia’s public colleges and universities collectively received millions of dollars in scholarships and grants alone, but to be considered for many grant and scholarship opportunities, students must file the FAFSA,” said Tucker. “The money is there, but students must apply to receive it. Filing the FAFSA should be the first step for anyone who wants to obtain an education or training beyond high school.”

March 1 is the deadline for students to submit a FAFSA to apply for the PROMISE Scholarship, and April 15 is the deadline for students to submit the FAFSA to be considered for the West Virginia Higher Education Grant Program. Students who plan to pursue education or training beyond high school during the 2019-2020 academic year can now complete the 2019-2020 FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov using their 2017 tax returns. Students who wish to apply for the PROMISE Scholarship can do so now at www.cfwv.com/PROMISE.

Staff from the Financial Aid Division at the Commission are working with college and university partners to help increase financial aid awareness throughout communities in the state. As a result, hundreds of free financial aid and FAFSA workshops are scheduled throughout the academic year. A full list of workshops is available at cfwvconnect.com/community-calendar.

Earlier this year, CFWV announced that high schools that participate in the three college-planning pathway initiatives, which are College Application & Exploration WeekFAFSA completion events and College Decision Day, and meet certain requirements will be recognized in the fall of 2019 as a CFWV Champion of College Access and Success. More information on this recognition will be provided to high schools that have registered to participate in College Application & Exploration Week.

CFWV is West Virginia’s free college- and career-planning resource. The initiative is led by the Commission in partnership with WVCTCS and the West Virginia Department of Education.

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