Over $10M Dollars Left on the Table by Maine College Students in 2018

FAME plans outreach efforts to help students apply for financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid!

AUGUSTA, Maine – October 1, 2019 – According to Nerdwallet.com[1], 2,595 Maine students left $10,017,502 in Pell Grants (federal student loans that don’t need to be paid back) on the table for the 2018-2019 academic year because they did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Only 63% of Maine high school seniors completed the FAFSA, the federal application that college, universities, and trade schools use to determine student eligibility for federal financial aid, according to the Finance of Authority (FAME).

“Unfortunately, many families mistakenly believe they won’t be eligible for federal financial aid, so they don’t fill out the FAFSA, leaving potentially significant grant money on the table or missing out on financial aid all together,” said Martha Johnston, FAME Director of Education.

In addition to the FAFSA being the application for federal aid, the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for the Maine State Grant, and most schools also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their own financial aid funds. “We want to encourage every Maine family sending a child off to college, trade or technical school to complete the FAFSA.  Any amount of financial aid can make a big difference and applying for financial aid is one of the best ways to reduce student loan debt,” added Johnston.

The average student debt in Maine is $31,000 per student, and 56 percent of Maine students graduate with debt.[2]

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the FAFSA for the 2020-2021 school year will become available to families at FAFSA.gov.

“We encourage Maine families to complete the FAFSA as soon as they can – in fact we like to tell families to do it in October when it becomes available – because aid eligibility is different for every school and financial aid may disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis,” noted Johnston.

Statewide Help Sessions

Over the last fifteen years, FAME has hosted free statewide in-person help sessions for families. At those events, families can sit with an experienced FAME representative and fill out the FAFSA together. This year, fourteen sessions are scheduled throughout the state from October 10 to October 29. A complete list of dates and locations is available here: https://www.famemaine.com/events/categories/fafsa/

If families are not able to attend the in-person help sessions, FAME also offers online support at FAMEmaine.com. Families can also call 1-800-228-3734 with questions.

For those families attending the in-person help sessions, FAME recommends bringing the following information:

  • FSA ID – this user name and password is needed to access all Federal Student Aid websites, including the FAFSA.  We recommend the student and one parent create it ahead of time at fsaid.ed.gov.
  • Social Security numbers (SSN) for student and parents
  • 2018 Federal Income Tax Returns, including all schedules and W2s 
  • Current asset information  for student and parents

Facebook Live Sessions

Mila Tappan, manager of FAME’s CAFE (College Access and Financial Aid) Team, returns to Facebook Live to talk about filing the FAFSA. Mila was joined by Mary Dyer, Financial Education Officer at FAME on September 16th. On October 7th, Mila and Nikki Vachon, College Access Counselor at FAME will be back with some more tips and tools. These Facebook Live sessions will help parents and students with the various stages of completing the FAFSA and answer questions in real-time.

The Don’t Fear the FAFSA Facebook Live events will air on the following Mondays at 7 PM.  Dates and themes for each event are:

  • Monday, September 16th at 7PM – What is the FAFSA & How to Get Prepared
  • Monday, October 7th at 7PM – Filling out the FAFSA: Tips and Tools

The session recordings can be found at https://www.facebook.com/FAME.Education/

About the Finance Authority of Maine [FAME]:

FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine citizens pursue business and educational opportunities. FAME helps to lead the creation of good paying jobs for Maine citizens by working at the nexus between economic and workforce development. To learn more about FAME, please visit FAMEmaine.com.

[1] For full analysis see: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2018-fafsa-study/

[2] According to the Project on Student Debt by The Institute for College Access & Success. Read more at https://ticas.org/our-work/student-debt/