As Michigan’s economy continues to struggle, a rising number of MSU students are filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, in hopes of receiving financial assistance to pay for school.
In the 2010-11 academic year, approximately 59 percent of MSU students completed the FAFSA, an increase of about 3 percent from 2008-09, according to MSU’s Office of Financial Aid.
Val Meyers, associate director of MSU’s Office of Financial Aid, said the increase seen following the 2008-09 school year most likely was because of the nation’s economic downturn.
“A lot of it is driven by the economy,” Meyers said.
Across Michigan, the number of students applying for FAFSA also is increasing.
The percentage of East Lansing residents who filled out FAFSA forms increased by 52.3 percent from the 2008-09 school year to the 2011-12 school year — slightly below the Michigan average of 53.4 percent during the same time period — according to data from the Michigan Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Education.
In the 2009-10 school year, students in East Lansing received nearly $60.2 million in Pell Grant money — an increase of 175 percent from five years prior.
Meyers said MSU holds various events encouraging students to complete the forms and also sends multiple emails to students reminding them of upcoming deadlines.
In recent years, the federal government made changes to the FAFSA in an attempt to make it easier for students to fill out the form, she said.
“It might look intimidating at first, but the more often you do it the more easy it is,” Meyers said.
“You just have to have some patience.”
Kinesiology freshman Stefan Rowland fills out the FAFSA each year with the help of his parents and said it has not been too difficult.
He said he has received a substantial amount of money that helps him pay for tuition.
“The economy is not too great,” Rowland said. “More people need help going to college.”
Zoology sophomore Katie Jones said the Pell Grant she received from filling out the FAFSA, which totalled approximately $850 last year, has helped out with expenses such as food and school supplies.
“Being a college student is really tough,” Jones said. “Every little bit of aid definitely helps.”
Jones said it is important for the government to provide aid since many students are struggling to pay the rising cost of tuition.
“I believe that education should be readily available in this country,” Jones said. “It’s obvious that people that graduate college get better jobs and contribute to economic growth.”
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