On Monday, November 20 at 6:30 p.m., U.S. Senator Jack Reed will host his annual college financial aid workshop for high school students and families across Rhode Island. The free workshop will provide college-bound students with information about scholarships, grants, loans, the Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and federal tax benefits to help with college costs.
The one-hour seminar will feature financial aid experts, including representatives from the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, the College Planning Center of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants, among others.
The Department of Education recently announced that the newly updated and simplified FAFSA for the 2024-25 school year will be available by December 31. The FAFSA is used to help determine a family’s expected annual contribution for college expenses and eligibility for need-based federal aid, such as Pell grants. It is also the form Rhode Island residents complete to determine eligibility for the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship and the Rhode Island Hope Scholarship, programs that provide two years of free tuition at the Community College of Rhode Island or Rhode Island College respectively.
This year’s updated FAFSA and new formula will result in an increased number of students eligible for Pell grants in Rhode Island, including nearly 3,000 new students and over 6,000 that will now be eligible for the maximum award of $7,395.
Common errors people make when completing the FAFSA can potentially cost students tens of thousands of dollars when it comes to receiving financial aid.
Senator Reed is urging Rhode Islanders to fill out and submit their FAFSA as soon as it is available and teaming up with financial aid experts to offer tips to correctly do so.
“Students don’t have to wait until they are accepted to college to start the financial aid process. This free financial aid workshop connects families with experts who can walk you through the process and answer questions. I want every student to understand their options when it comes to paying for college. Whether it is institutional-based scholarships, Pell grants, or some type of other financial aid, every student who plans to attend college next year needs to complete FAFSA,” said Senator Reed. “I will continue working to make college more affordable and the financial aid process easier for students and families. Increasing need-based financial aid for qualified students is a smart investment that helps today’s students become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.”
Senator Reed recently voted to uphold President Joe Biden’s new student loan income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. The Saving on Valuable Education (SAVE) IDR Plan could direct $109 million in IDR forgiveness to over 2,500 Rhode Islanders.
In past years, many families, fearing the complexity of the FAFSA paperwork, paid private companies to fill it out for them and some just gave up. As a result, millions of eligible students who were eligible for federal aid didn’t even apply. No one should pay to apply for federal financial aid. Due to legislative efforts by Senator Reed, the FAFSA form is easier to navigate, contains fewer questions, lets users automatically use information from older tax forms, and may be filled out using a mobile app or a mobile-friendly website.
During the workshop, financial aid and education experts will offer tips and discuss the loan and grant application process, what to expect when applying for financial aid, the process of paying back student loans, and tax benefits to assist with college expenses.
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