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January 12, 2022

Finish Your FAFSA campaign encourages students to apply for college financial aid

Access Missouri priority deadline, Feb. 1


In an effort to promote completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) among high school seniors and returning college students, the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) is launching the Finish Your FAFSA campaign and hosting last-minute FAFSA Frenzy events.

The campaign aims to increase overall FAFSA filing in Missouri, bring awareness to common FAFSA errors, and remind students of upcoming financial aid deadlines. Free assistance to complete the FAFSA is available at FAFSA Frenzy events throughout Missouri, including seven scheduled this month at local Missouri Job Centers.

“This campaign is about awareness. We hope to remind students that filing is the first step, but checking to make sure everything is accurate is just as important,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Financial aid is available for most types of education beyond high school, not just for students on a traditional four-year path. It’s important students understand the benefits of filing, and file early.”

Several common errors can prevent the application from being processed correctly, leaving students without the financial aid they may need to enroll next fall. Many students mistype their Social Security number, birth date, or even forget to sign the application before submitting it. Students are encouraged to review their Student Aid Report to check for mistakes that may need correcting.

The priority deadline for the Access Missouri Grant – the state’s largest student financial aid program – is quickly approaching. Students must complete the FAFSA by Tuesday, Feb. 1, to be guaranteed a grant award if they meet all eligibility requirements.

Students completing the FAFSA after Feb. 1 but before the April 1 final deadline could still receive a grant if funding is available. However, early submission of the FAFSA is encouraged because funds are limited.

More than 41,000 Missouri students received funding through the program during the 2020-21 academic year.

Students can file the FAFSA online at https://studentaid.gov/ or by downloading the myStudentAid mobile app. Financial aid professionals, high school counselors, and other volunteers provide free assistance during FAFSA Frenzy events. Public events – held at high schools, college campuses, and community facilities – are open to all high school seniors, current college students, and adults interested in attending college, no matter where they attend or enroll.

In addition to events hosted by schools and partner organizations, MDHEWD will host the following winter FAFSA Frenzy events just ahead of the Feb. 1 Access Missouri Grant priority deadline:

Thursday, January 13 – Arnold Job Center, 1-6 p.m.
Monday, January 24 – St. Joseph Job Center, 12-5 p.m.
Tuesday, January 25 – Park Hills Job Center, 1-6 p.m.
Wednesday, January 26 – Columbia Job Center, 1-6 p.m.
Wednesday, January 26 – Sikeston Job Center, 1-6 p.m.
Thursday, January 27 – Kennett Job Center, 1- 6 p.m.
Thursday, January 27 – Lebanon Job Center, 1-6 p.m.

Missouri students attending a FAFSA Frenzy event can apply online for one of 20 $500 Journey to College Scholarships through My Scholarship Central at https://myscholarshipcentral.org.

Also to increase FAFSA filing in the state, MDHEWD launched the Show-Me FAFSA Challenge in fall 2021. Public high schools throughout the state are competing with one another for scholarship prizes, which will be awarded to one student at each of the winning schools.

The Show-Me FAFSA Challenge officially started on Oct. 1, when the 2021-2022 FAFSA opened, and ends on April 1, the final Access Missouri Grant deadline. Learn more about the Show-Me FAFSA Challenge and find the challenge tracker at https://dhewd.mo.gov/ppc/fafsachallenge.php.

Schools are encouraged to participate in the MDHEWD FAFSA Completion Project, which provides access to a secure webpage where approved high school staff can view their High School FAFSA Report. The report shows a list of students at the school who have filed and can indicate if the student has an error or missing signature on their FAFSA form. Learn more about how to participate in the FASFA Completion Project at https://dhewd.mo.gov/fafsa-completion/.

As of December 30, 2021, 27.4 percent of the high school class of 2022 has completed a FAFSA, a -0.8 percent change compared to this time in the last academic year.