With most Valley schools still remote, many high school students are finding it more challenging than usual to prepare for postsecondary education. The process can be long and complicated, but families usually worry the most about the financial aspects.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can help with that. Youth from low-income households can secure grants to help with the cost of college, but the FAFSA is also necessary for all students to access loans, many scholarships and other financial opportunities.
In a typical year, schools all over the state host in-person events to help families complete the FAFSA. It’s a complicated process with a lot of potential pitfalls. But those events aren’t possible in most parts of the state because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some high schools have adapted, but they’re getting help from three groups.
College Success Arizona, Be A Leader Foundation and Arizona State University are working together to host a series of FAFSA drive-thru events where families can get guidance on completing the forms. The first drive-thru, at Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix, helped 76 individuals start or complete the FAFSA. A mobile computer lab from Phoenix College provided wi-fi and extra computers, while College Success Arizona also had tablets available to families who needed them. With eight stations geared toward language preference and FAFSA needs, 20 volunteers from ASU, College Success Arizona, Be A Leader Foundation and the META Network used PPE to keep everyone safe.
Those seeking help on the FAFSA can:
- Attend an upcoming event:
- Feb. 24, Phoenix Union: Academies at South Mountain, 3 to 6 p.m. – sign up for an appointment at bit.ly/SouthFeb24
- Feb. 27, Boys & Girls Clubs of Scottsdale with Coronado High School, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – sign up for an appointment at bit.ly/FAFSA227
- March 4, Tolleson Union: West Point High School, 3 to 6 p.m. – sign up for an appointment at bit.ly/TollesonFAFSA.
- March 6, Glendale Union: Glendale High School, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – sign up for an appointment at bit.ly/GlendaleMarch6.
- Engage with Benji, an Artificial Intelligence tool that has been trained to get quick answers to 600+ questions about the FAFSA. Text the word “Help” to Benji at 602-786-8171 to begin asking questions.
- Call the FAFSA Hotline, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- English: 1-833-AZFAFSA (293-2372)
- Spanish: 1-833-MIFAFSA (643-2372)
- Watch for drive-up events through the Northern Arizona College Resource Center.
Previously held FAFSA Drive-Up Events
- November 18, 2020: Carl Hayden Community High School, Phoenix Union High School District
- January 12, 2021: Mesa Convention Center in partnership with City of Mesa & Mesa Public Schools
- January 14, 2021: Trevor G. Browne High School, Phoenix Union High School District
- February 3, 2021: Central High School, Phoenix Union High School District