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How to help students unlock financial aid

What if every Vermonter who found value in postsecondary education was able to access it? We know that 88 percent of people in Vermont without a post-high school credential see the value of higher education, and two-thirds are interested in pursuing a credential. Despite the interest, the cost of education is one of the largest deterrents for Vermonters — only 34 percent say that higher education provides a good value for the cost.

This means that if Vermonters could have their financial barriers lifted, they may be more likely to pursue education and training. While there are now more options than ever before to obtain free postsecondary credentials, many educational pathways are still locked behind a high paywall.

So, how can you help potential students navigate paying for education and unlock state and federal aid? By sharing resources, busting financial aid myths, and encouraging completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FAFSA = Free money

The FAFSA is the very first step toward obtaining free money. Sixty-two percent of the Vermonters we surveyed are concerned about lack of financial aid availability, yet over $4.6 million in Pell Grant money was left on the table by the high school class of 2017 in Vermont alone. How did this happen? Forty-five percent of Vermont graduates didn’t complete the FAFSA.

While the Pell Grant alone may not fund all of an individual’s education, there are resources available here in Vermont to help navigate federal financial aid. Plus, financial aid isn’t just for students looking to attend 4-year colleges and universities. The FAFSA unlocks opportunities for students interested in community college; career, trade, or vocational school; and online school, too.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Stay up-to-date. The FAFSA evolves every year. Know about any new changes now to prevent confusion later.