State urges students to file the FAFSA now to be considered for state-level college financial aid programs


West Virginia Higher Education Grant application deadline is April 15

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and Community and Technical College System of West Virginia today urged students to file the 2014-15 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by April 15 in order to be considered for state-level grants to help pay for college and career and technical programs. The FAFSA is available at www.fafsa.gov.

Completing the FAFSA allows students to be considered for many types of state and federal financial aid, including the West Virginia Higher Education Grant program and the West Virginia Higher Education Adult Part-Time Student (HEAPS) program. Both programs offer grants — which do not have to be repaid — based on students’ demonstrated financial need. In 2013-14, the West Virginia Higher Education Grant offered eligible students up to $2,500 per year to help pay for college expenses.  Additionally, the FAFSA serves as the application for federal need-based programs, including the Pell Grant, which provided students with up to $5,645 in the most recent academic year.

Any student who is planning to enroll or re-enroll in a postsecondary education program within the next year should complete a FAFSA. That includes high school seniors, current college students, and adults planning to return to the classroom. Financial aid dollars can be used to cover the costs of two-year degree programs, four-year degree programs, and some certification programs at eligible institutions.

Statewide, FAFSA completion rates are down slightly from last year, possibly due to recent harsh winter weather. Snow, ice, and severe cold weather led to the cancelation of many scheduled financial aid workshops.

“We’re trying to play ‘catch-up,’” Brian Weingart, Senior Director of Financial Aid at the Commission, said. “This winter’s weather put us behind, but we’re working hard to reach out to students and families to make sure they submit the form on time.”

Students who need help completing the FAFSA can call the Division of Financial Aid at 1-888-825-5707 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. After hours counseling is offered by appointment. Weingart said that students who complete the FAFSA on their own at home should make sure they are visiting the correct website, www.fafsa.gov, because some for-profit organizations charge students to complete the form. Completing the FAFSA is free at the federal site.

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