If you know a student graduating from high school, you have probably heard about FAFSA. I know a lot about FAFSA. I know a lot about it because it is my job to help strengthen Tulsa’s education and workforce pipeline. As a 42 year old program manager for education at a local Chamber of Commerce, I know about it through our initiatives intent on increasing graduation rates, the annual college and career fair we host and our laser focus on ensuring more students are prepared to take on the challenge of life beyond high school. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important gateway to funding college education.
I know a lot about FAFSA.
I know a lot about FASA because I file for it every year. I know about it because, I am currently a college student. I know because I am working toward obtaining my bachelor’s degree. I also know firsthand just how hard it is as a family of three on one income, as a wife, mother, friend and community member with a full-time job to pay for school without the money I get from FAFSA.
I was young once. Back in 1993, I went to the University of Tulsa to double major in Theatre and English. I had no clue about FAFSA and my parents took out a large loan to pay off what I didn’t get in scholarships to pay for my education. I assumed, parents pay for college. I assumed scholarships paid for college. I had no idea that FAFSA was a thing and that it could help take some of the financial burden off my family.
When I fell in love with a boy and dropped out of school to follow him out of state. I had no idea just how difficult it would be not only to return to school but to pay for the postsecondary education I had taken for granted in my 20’s, when life was easier.
It’s been a battle, working to save enough to not go into debt to finish my education. When I decided to return to school I reached out to my local community college advisor and asked what resources were available to me as a non-traditional student. The first thing he told me to do was apply for FAFSA, find out just how much of my education could be paid for. Yes, the process was cumbersome. Yes, I needed some hard to find tax information that even for me as an adult made the process daunting. But with help from my college advisor and resources like FAFSATulsa.com, FAFSA helped.
It helped more than I had imagined.
I’m now a senior in the 2018 graduating class at Drury University. I’m going to graduate with a bachelor’s of science in Organizational Management & Communications. Finally the journey I began more than 20 years ago will come to an end. I wish I had known sooner about the value of FAFSA and the community resources available to help me through the process. I am proud to make it my job to ensure more students have the information they need to take advantage of FAFSA. So, get off YOUR FAFSA. It’s FREE money and you can start your journey. . .NOW.