Missouri Hosts Week of Action to Help Students and Families With New FAFSA

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

As students and families across the country begin to fill out their 2024-25 FAFSA, the Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Personnel (MASFAP) is hosting a state-wide week of action to answer questions they may have about the new application. 

The 2024-2025 FAFSA launched in late December, with periodic maintenance outages due to the wide-spread changes to the application through FAFSA simplification. But the overhaul is leaving students and families with many questions on how to submit their form, either as a student or contributor.

Emily Haynam, the executive director of student financial aid at the University of Missouri, known as Mizzou, said as her team began brainstorming how to communicate new changes for the 2024-25 FAFSA, it became clear to her that there needed to be some sort of event around completion.

“We know that if students complete the FAFSA earlier, they matriculate,” Haynam said. “We know it's just a better situation for the students and it's better for us from an enrollment management strategy. This was something new and different, and something that we felt like would help out the whole state, and not just Mizzou recruitment.”

From there, Haynam and her colleagues around Missouri decided to develop a MASFAP FAFSA Week of Action to help students complete the FAFSA, including evening Zoom drop-in hours to help both students and families with 2024-25 FAFSA questions. The week starts on Monday, January 8, and goes through Thursday, January 11, and takes place 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. CST every night.

During the Zoom drop-in hours, students and families will be placed into private breakout rooms with financial aid professionals from various Missouri institutions serving as volunteers to answer their questions.

Haynam noted that the week of action is meant to complement FAFSA Frenzy events, which are in-person events hosted by the state government across Missouri to help students, specifically those in high school, with the FAFSA. 

The virtual sessions also provide an easier avenue for the state’s rural communities to receive help in completing the FAFSA, she added. 

“In Missouri we're trying to serve a lot of rural communities,” Haynam said. “It's hard for there to be enough in-person events to really get everyone's questions answered. The goal is basically to provide another tool to help complement all of the in-person events and all of the great work that our college affordability and access networks are doing.”

So far, the top questions Haynam and her colleagues have heard already from students range from who contributors are, how financial aid works, and when they will receive their financial aid offer. 

However, Haynam noted concerns with the delay in institutions receiving Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs), which will further delay the delivery of financial aid offers to students.

“We're a little bit worried about the timing of that and the questions that are going to come with, ‘Well the department said that you're going to get this at the end of January, when am I going to find out what I'm getting in aid?’” Haynam said. “We'll have to manage that with our admissions team and for continuing students as well since this is obviously changing for everybody.”

MASFAP also felt it was necessary to host the FAFSA Week of Action due to Missouri’s February 1 FAFSA priority deadline, Haynam said in an interview with NASFAA. However, since the interview, the state has removed its priority deadline for students to be considered for state need-based financial aid programs. The deadline to complete the FAFSA is now April 1 for the state. 

Haynam noted on Wednesday that due to the state’s decision, Mizzou will also remove its priority deadline, with the final FAFSA deadline on April 1.  

Is your state or region hosting a FAFSA event this month? Email [email protected] to highlight your events.

 

Publication Date: 1/8/2024


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