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You Can Get Free Money for College — and Help Finding It

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If you’re considering going to college this fall — or next — there is one way to ensure you’re considered for as much free money as possible: by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Completing the FAFSA makes you eligible for federal, state and some school-based aid, including loans, scholarships and grants. But for many students and families, it can be challenging and time-consuming to fill out the application, and the pandemic only added to that burden.

As of mid-August, 57% of the 2021 high school class had completed the FAFSA, a 4.3% decline compared with this time last year, according to estimates from the National College Attainment Network. Including both the class of 2020 and 2021, NCAN estimates that through the pandemic, over a quarter-million fewer students completed the FAFSA.

“We’ve seen disproportionate declines in high schools that are educating more students of color and more students from low-income backgrounds,” says Bill DeBaun, director of data and evaluation at NCAN. “For those students, the pathway to college has never been easy …........

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