PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Applying for federal student aid for college can be a daunting experience, but help with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form is available.
Destiny Crawford is a 2019 Kensington Health Sciences Academy grad who’s currently attending Community College of Philadelphia. She advised high school seniors at a school district FAFSA kickoff to keep track of their login information.
“You need to take your passwords and email it to yourself and write it down somewhere,” she said. “You’re going to need those passwords for the next four years of your life!”
Crawford also advised students to get a folder or binder to keep papers they’ll need to apply for FAFSA renewals in future years.
One way for students to get answers is a chatbot named Wyatt created by the College Board and Benefits Data Trust, a nonprofit that connects people with public benefits.
BDT’s chief strategy officer Pauline Abernathy told KYW Newsradio the bot uses artificial intelligence to answer students’ questions.
“You sign up (getfafsahelp.org) and then you get a text on your phone that says ‘Hi, this is Wyatt. How can I help you?’” she explained.
FAFSA forms for this year became available Oct. 1. Schools often distribute student aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so Crawford advised students not to procrastinate.
“Get it out of the way,” she said. “You don’t want to be in the months of February of March doing your FAFSA because the earlier, the more money.”
Financial aid may be essential for many students because of the coronavirus. A recent Citizens Bank survey showed that 88% of prospective college students said the pandemic had an effect on their plans after high school.