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February 16, 2006
Jennifer Fennell or
Financial Aid Deadline Quickly Approaches
Advising website simplifies process for Florida students
FLORIDA The deadline for Florida students to apply for financial aid at many colleges and universities is March 1. The Florida Department of Education's official student advising website www.FACTS.org simplifies the financial aid application process by providing information and resources to help students apply in time.
"There is funding available to help students achieve their higher education goals and we must make certain they know what is available," said Education Commissioner John L. Winn. "The FACTS.org website not only helps students find important financial aid information but also helps them plan step-by-step for their future."
Most students in Florida receive some kind of financial assistance. Students should first apply for federal financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students applying for state aid should complete the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA). Both of these forms can be found through the FACTS.org website.
Financial aid for Florida students is available in both merit-based and need-based forms, including scholarships, grants, work-study programs and student loans. Merit-based financial aid includes the Florida Lottery-funded Bright Futures Scholarships. Last year (2004-2005) 130,597 students received Bright Futures scholarships:
- 27,472 students received the Florida Academic Scholars Award (pays 100 percent of tuition and fees, plus $300 per semester for college-related expenses)
- 100,510 students received the Florida Medallion Scholars Award (pays 75 percent of tuition and fees)
- 2,615 students received the Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award (pays 75 percent of tuition and fees
The deadline for applying for state-funded financial aid programs, including Bright Futures via the FFAA, is near. Students who do not apply for Bright Futures Scholarships during their last year in high school forfeit all future eligibility for this substantial financial assistance.
Florida's largest need-based program is the Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG), which was awarded to 94,810 students during the 2004-2005 year. Other need-based aid is available through the Florida Work Experience Program, the Rosewood Family Scholarship Program, the José Martí Scholarship Challenge Grant Fund, the Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship Program, the Florida Education Fund and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.
Six additional special interest programs are available for Florida students. For example, the largest tuition assistance grant, the William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), last year awarded an average amount of $2,049 to $35,502 students.
For comprehensive information about available financial aid, students and their parents should visit www.FACTS.org. Links are provided to federal, state and institutional financial aid websites, as well as to College Goal Sunday, an event being held February 19, 2006, in locations throughout Florida to help high school students and their parents apply for federal student aid.
To learn more about financial aid, including valuable, money-saving recommendations on the "Facts and Fictions about College Costs" page, students and their parents should visit www.FACTS.org. The FACTS.org Help Desk is available for technical assistance on the site via the "Contact FACTS Help Desk" link at the bottom of each page or by calling (813) 974-2118.