Francis Lewis Raises Financial Aid Awareness

The last week of November marked Financial Aid Awareness week at Francis Lewis High School.  As the title suggests, this week focused on seniors filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. The week functions as a way to teach students about the importance of financial aid as well as streamline the process of applying for financial aid.

“We just try to rally around a good chunk of time,” college advisor Ms. Pritchett said. “If you stretch it out too long it’s too much so we try to condense it in a week of trying to get everyone excited about filling out the forms, providing resources, and the lot in the college office and career center.”

Financial aid helps students who are applying to college. It gives them an alternative to paying tuition and gives them a support system as they transition from high school to college.

“By applying for financial aid they could receive help from the federal government, the state governments, and private institutions to be able to afford college,” college advisor Mr. Verastegui said.

Often times, the reason students are held back from attending college is because they are unable to afford it. Financial aid is able to provide aid during these times of need and help seniors overcome this obstacle.

A big hindrance to students when they are actually matriculating into college is the ability to pay,” college advisor Ms. Shaw said. “When they fill out their FAFSA application, their CSS profile, and they actually fill out those financial materials, they are able to receive money to help pay for college and be able to actually attend.”

There are many school-wide events that are held to better educate students on financial aid and to help them with their FAFSA applications. One of these events was Financial Aid Awareness Night held on November 5. During  the event, the college office prepared a presentation as well as a packet of useful information for attending students. 

“We’re trying to do these initiatives to help them be more aware and also help connect with their families,”  Ms. Shaw said 

Although financial aid is heavily stressed, many students are unaware about how to apply or if they are eligible.  Additionally, many students don’t take the initiative to attend these school events and feel that they don’t learn enough in school about the process.  

“I don’t think enough people know about this and I think it needs to be more stressed,” sophomore Alexandra Loginova said. “I think there needs to be more more fairs and awareness days, even for freshmen and sophomore classes. They need to start early and be informed early.”

The College Office shares this concern. In an attempt to shed more light on the process, college advisors have turned to the other significant authority figures in students’ lives, the parents. They believe that when parents are aware of financial aid and its significance, they are able to make a great difference in their child’s future.

“Students don’t really understand the importance of it, but their parents definitely understand the importance of how to make that money and where that money goes for college,” Ms. Pritchett said. “I feel like this year we targeted the parents a little more directly by supporting them and I hope that helped.”  

In addition to the College Office’s website, which is dedicated to explaining how to file a FAFSA, the door to the college office is always open to students who are interested in learning more about the financial aid process.

“I think that we need to educate our students more about the process [and] the different types of financial aid that is available to them,” Mr. Verastegui explained. “That’s something that, as a school, we could definitely improve on delivering that information to students.”