Take the stress out of college financial aid
Robert Delaney is chairman and Charles Kelley is chairman of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA), a nonprofit quasi-state authority that has been providing affordable higher education solutions since 1981.
Every winter and spring, parents of high school students experience the stress of asking for this very important financial aid that could well allow their son or daughter to attend the university of their dreams.
A very important first step in unlocking much needed financial aid is to complete a key form known as FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The FAFSA is used by colleges to determine your expected family contribution (EFC). In 2018, Nerdwallet estimated that students in Rhode Island were leaving nearly $ 6 million in free financial aid unused by not completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA is the gateway for financial aid such as the Federal Pell Grant, State Grants, College Financial Aid, Work Study, and Federal Loans.
Why is this so important to us at the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority? Because receiving financial aid can quite simply be the difference between going to college or not. Completion of the FAFSA opens up opportunities and doors that might otherwise remain closed to our high school students in Rhode Island who desire a college education.
We also cannot discuss the importance of financial aid without acknowledging the severe student debt crisis our country is facing. The latest statistics for 2019 show that more than 44 million borrowers collectively owe $ 1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the United States alone.
For these reasons, and while the FAFSA completion rate in Rhode Island is generally quite good, we hope to do even better this year in what is admittedly a very difficult year for high school students. Distance learning does not necessarily provide students with the important meeting time they need with guidance counselors who can encourage them to fill out these critical forms. To help, RISLA’s College Planning Center (CPC) works with guidance counselors, albeit from a distance, to communicate the importance of completing the FAFSA and the range of tools available to them, even when physical schools are closed.
For more than 20 years, RISLA’s College Planning Center has been Rhode Island’s largest provider of free college planning assistance. The center typically helps over 16,000 students and families per year navigate the often daunting task of college selection and application, as well as reviewing college essays and providing hands-on help with forms. financial aid. In the past academic year, the College Planning Center helped complete more than 4,800 financial aid forms.
Students and parents are invited to make a telephone appointment with a financial aid expert by going to cpcri.org, call (401) 736-3170, send the word “FAFSA” to 24000 or just send an email [email protected]. Spanish speaking counselors are also available.
We encourage all families to apply, regardless of their situation. Now that turns a painful process into a stress free one.