DSC_0167The March 1 priority deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is approaching, and Alabama’s completion rate is falling behind. Currently, Alabama high school seniors and their families are positioned to leave a significant amount of money for college on the table if they do not complete the form in the coming weeks. The National College Access Network coordinates a national FAFSA tracker, and, based on up-to-date data featured on the tracker, Alabama is currently ranked 43rd for FAFSA completion.

Alabama Possible, a statewide nonprofit that removes barriers to prosperity, manages the Cash for College Alabama campaign, which teams up with school counselors, career coaches and other educators at high schools across the state to promote FAFSA completion. Throughout February, the Cash for College Alabama Campaign will raise awareness of the FAFSA and aggressively advocate for students and families to complete the financial aid form.

“One of the biggest reasons families don’t complete the FAFSA is that they don’t think they will qualify for financial aid. However, 85 percentof families who complete the FAFSA do get help paying for college,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible. “Financial aid is limited, and that’s why everyone who plans to go to college in the fall should complete their FAFSA before the March 1 priority deadline. We are sharing this message throughout the month of February so that Alabamians get the resources they need to complete the FAFSA.”

Last year, students and their families left $24 billion worth of financial aid on the table. By completing the FAFSA, students become eligible for grants, loans and work-study programs. Even students with merit or athletic scholarships may qualify for money to help pay for housing, books, meal plans, and transportation.

Students and their families can learn more about the FAFSA by visiting cashforcollegealabama.org.

Cash for College Alabama is a partnership of Alabama Possible, the Alabama State Department of Education, Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama, and the Alabama Media Group.