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(WACO, Texas) – It pays to be early.

“Many financial aid programs, especially those with limited funds, have deadlines for application,” said Leah Williams, TSTC’s associate director of financial aid processing. “Completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) early ensures that you meet these deadlines and have the best chance of securing available financial aid.”

According to the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics, more than $23 million in federal, state, local and institutional grants or scholarship aid was awarded to Texas State Technical College students during the 2021-22 academic year. More than $11 million was awarded in federal student loans, according to the institute.

The FAFSA is a standardized form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine federal, state and institutional aid eligibility, along with work-study opportunities, loan options and financial need assessment.

“The FAFSA collects information about the student’s and their family’s financial situation,” Williams said. “This information is used to calculate the expected family contribution, which is a measure of the family’s ability to contribute to educational expenses.”

Things that people can do to make the FAFSA process easier include having important documents readily available, creating a Federal Student Aid ID early, filling out the FAFSA form online, understanding dependency status, checking information for accuracy, and submitting early.

Williams said some of the common mistakes to avoid when filling out the FAFSA are procrastination, not fully completing the form, using the wrong tax year, not reporting all sources of income, confusing student and parent information, underestimating assets, and ignoring changes in financial circumstances.

“It’s important to review the FAFSA thoroughly before submission and, if possible, seek assistance from financial aid professionals to ensure accuracy and maximize your eligibility to financial aid,” Williams said.

TSTC students who have financial aid questions can reach out to their admissions advisor, their enrollment coach, or TSTC’s Student Accounting department.

“The FAFSA form is a free application, and it is important to use official and reputable resources to avoid scams or unnecessary fees,” Williams said. “Always refer to the official FAFSA website and related government resources for accurate and up-to-date information.”

February is Financial Aid Awareness Month, a time to address concerns about student debt, encourage education accessibility, promote financial literacy, and support college and career readiness, Williams said.

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