Boosting FAFSA Completion with a Virtual Financial Aid Night

Posted by Rose Frezza, Texas OnCourse on Sep 29, 2020 12:57:48 PM

Normally this time of year, many high schools and districts would be hosting in-person financial aid nights to boost FAFSA completion. Because of social distancing guidelines, many of these sessions need to become virtual. Read on for tips on how to host one and what information to include.

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Topics: College Planning, Distance Counseling and Learning, Financial Aid

Updates to the Texas OnCourse Academy Modules

Posted by Texas OnCourse on Sep 16, 2020 4:38:32 PM

We have made some significant updates to modules in the Texas OnCourse Academy! The Academy is our premiere college and career planning resource for educators. 

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Topics: Applying to College, College Planning, Financial Aid, Texas OnCourse Academy

Navigating FAFSA Verification: Why and How to Verify Financial Aid

Posted by Leader Fellow Alum Holly Moore on Mar 26, 2019 4:35:00 PM

You sent emails and texts and held parent meetings before October 1st in hopes that your students would complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A successful financial aid night has come and gone, and you're impressed with the FAFSA completions at your high school. All is calm until a panicked student comes into your office and tells you they received an email saying they were selected for verification.

What is verification?

Verification is proof through documentation that the information provided on a student's FAFSA is correct. The federal government requires colleges and universities to verify or confirm the data reported by students and their parent(s) on the FAFSA.

Who is selected?

Typically, about one-third of students are selected for verification. However, some schools verify all students.

Why was a student selected for verification?

First, reassure the student that they didn’t do anything wrong. Verification selection can be random. It could also be that the FAFSA submitted was incomplete, used estimated information, or provided inconsistent data. The verification process is a federal requirement to ensure that eligible students receive all the aid that they qualify for and to prevent ineligible students from receiving aid.

How does a student know they were selected for verification?

On the top of the Student Aid Report (SAR), they will see the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If there is an asterisk (*) behind the EFC number, the FAFSA was selected for verification. Students selected for verification may also be notified directly from the college(s) they have applied to via mail, email, or the student’s portal. In addition, counselors and advisers can see which students have been selected for verification by logging into the ApplyTexas Counselor Suite and clicking on their high school’s FAFSA apps.

How can counselors and advisers help students navigate the verification process?

  1. Educate students and families about verification in advance. If families know what verification is and what to expect if they are selected, then the student is more likely to be successful at completing the verification process.
  2. Encourage all families to request a tax transcript from the IRS if they are unable to use the IRS data retrieval tool when completing the FAFSA. Offer to assist with ordering tax transcripts, if applicable, during financial aid workshops. This is one of the most common documents requested when a student is selected for verification.
  3. Make sure students check their email and log into their college portals so that they don’t miss any needed paperwork or deadlines. If ever in doubt, call the college’s financial aid office.

Verification can be a major barrier, especially for Pell-eligible studentsNCAN data shows that over 100,000 Pell-eligible students in 2016–2017 who were selected for verification never completed the process. Counselors can help keep students on course by tracking students selected for verification, ensuring that they submit documents, and scheduling meetings to review their financial aid award letters.

If you’re craving more FAFSA knowledge, check out our Financial Aid Basics blog.

And finally, counselors and advisers, we encourage you to check out all eight strategies to combat verification challenges in the Texas OnCourse Academy FAFSA module, pictured below and available for download:



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Topics: College Planning, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

Webinar: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Posted by Texas OnCourse on Jan 8, 2019 1:53:00 PM

The scholarship application process can often be just as cumbersome as the application process. During this webinar from January 2019, Texas OnCourse staff highlight helpful advising resources from the scholarship learning module in the Texas OnCourse Academy. These resources, together with information about scholarships at Texas A&M University and through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, will be helpful no matter when you view this webinar.

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Topics: Webinar, Applying to College, College Planning, Financial Aid, Scholarships

How to Increase FAFSA Completion Rates at Your School: Tips from the Pros

Posted by Leader Fellow Alum Holly Moore on Nov 29, 2018 4:57:00 PM

When we heard that Texas OnCourse Leader Fellow Holly Moore increased her campus’ FAFSA completion by a whopping 21% in 2017–2018, we had to learn more! We interviewed her about her process and what she did differently than the year before. Holly is a college advisor in Waxahachie ISD, but made this incredible progress while she was at at Grand Prairie ISD last year. There were approximately 2,400 students at her school, and she worked with approximately 720 seniors each year.

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Topics: College Planning, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

Understanding TASFA Eligibility

Posted by Leader Fellow Alum Elizabeth Acosta on Oct 30, 2018 5:36:00 PM

Do you teach or advise students who are Texas residents but ineligible to apply for federal financial aid? If you do, you might not be sure whether they qualify for financial aid at all. We have some great news! Those students may be eligible for state financial aid.

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Topics: Finances, College Planning, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

The ApplyTexas Scholarship Section – Don't Forget It!

Posted by Leader Fellow Debra Creel on Oct 9, 2018 3:13:00 PM

Many Texas colleges consider the scholarship application offered by ApplyTexas. Though it isn’t required, the scholarship application can and should be completed at the same time as the admission application, saving students time. Filling both out at once also minimizes the risk of forgetting. For more info on everything related to scholarships, check out our Scholarship Basics blog. 

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Topics: Applying to College, Educators, Financial Aid, Scholarships

Starting the Conversation: Financial Aid Award Letters

Posted by Texas OnCourse on Mar 15, 2018 11:45:00 AM

With 2018 FAFSA priority deadlines behind us, students are checking their portals and mailboxes for their financial aid award letters. As they gear up to make big decisions about their financial and educational future, here are a series of helpful terms and questions to help guide students through their award letters.

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Topics: Finances, College Planning, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

Paying for College: The Four Different Types of College Costs

Posted by Leader Fellow Alum Jenifer Price on Jan 30, 2018 11:24:00 AM

As college acceptances and financial aid award letters start rolling in for high school seniors, families are beginning to count the cost of these postsecondary options. The cost of attendance for each college includes four main types of expenses. Understanding these types of expenses, some direct and some indirect, will help families decide whether a college is a financial fit and find ways to cut costs. And find more information on college costs, financial aid, FAFSA and more in our Financial Aid Basics for Counselors guide.

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Topics: Finances, College Planning, Educators, High School, Financial Aid

Financial Aid Deadlines: Keep Track with this Resource

Posted by Texas OnCourse on Jan 18, 2018 2:01:00 PM

Each year, once the FAFSA  opens on October 1st, students may be wondering what their next steps should be. One of the most important things for them to know: the Texas priority deadline for FAFSA submission is January 15th. While institutions may set their own independent priority deadlines, state and federal financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Your students should aim to complete their FAFSA on or before January 15th!

Below, we cover some additional financial aid milestones and deadlines to share with students.

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Topics: Financial Aid, Downloadable Resource