Student federal aid app makes it faster, easier to get school funding

Financial aid is a resource available to citizens or permanent residents of the United States. It makes college more affordable, enabling more students to further their educations. The Department of Education launched the app My Student Aid on Oct. 1 in time for the 2019-2020 federal aid cycle. The app is a portal to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that merges webpages from the FASFA.gov and StudentAid.gov websites. The app is accessible from any electronic device with access to the internet.

“Last year was the first time I filled out the FAFSA. It was a strenuous process. It took me two hours within a span of two days. It was kind of stressful for me because I had to go out and find all of the information,” said Emily Escamilla, a first generation college student and Chronicle staff member.

The amount of the federal aid award is based on eligibility and when the application is submitted because of limited funding available. An appraisal of the individual’s financial situation is conducted, as well as the school he or she is accepted into and then an award is given. Eligibility requirements are based on income. Students with a total family income of $20,000 or less receive the biggest awards.

“It was stressful. I’m still feeling it,” said Richland student Obidi Lewanika. “I’ve still not gotten verified from the one that I filled [out] so I had to take out a loan to sign up for classes.”

According to the federal student aid annual report, the maximum award distributed changes yearly. The maximum award for the 2015-2016 academic year was $5,775, while that of 2017-2018 was $5,920.

The secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, announced the mobile app at the annual Federal Student Aid conference in 2017. It was one piece of a larger overhaul of financial services for aid recipients and student borrowers that the department has dubbed NextGen. The goal is to improve customer service to be on the same level as the likes of Amazon or Apple’s Genius bar.

Richland is hosting FASFA/TASFA night Dec. 4 to help students apply for 2019-2020. It will be in Thunderduck Hall, T-219 from 3 to 7 p.m. For information on what to bring visit the financial aid office or call 972-238-6127.