Financial aid filing decrease leads to assistance increase

Financial aid filing decrease leads to assistance increase

One major side effect of the pandemic has been a lack of planning for the future. When uncertainty takes hold, it’s difficult to think ahead. Unfortunately, this has been reflected in this year’s financial aid application for secondary education. According to Forbes Advisor, about 15 percent fewer high school seniors filed for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA, for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Tamara Runyan, Director of Financial Aid at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, highly recommends students fill out the FAFSA since it can reap more benefits than just federal aid.

“Some institutions also use FAFSA in determining their institutional aid,” Runyan said. “Without filling it out, you may not be considered for most of their assistance.” 

Runyan described the application as “a fairly quick process” that should take around 30 minutes in total. Students will begin by creating a user ID and password to gain access to their application. If the student is under 24 years of age, a parent or guardian would also need to create an account as well. From there, the user will be able to select the school year they would like to file for and begin filling out the application.

It is critical that the student’s FAFSA application is submitted by any deadlines for institutional, state, or federal aid as well as scholarships. These deadlines can vary by school, state, and other factors. Runyan encourages applicants to double check these deadlines specifically for what institution they want to attend and the state the institution is in.

“My children went to college in Missouri. They had their own deadline for institutional scholarships that they had to meet, so my children had to meet that date, which happened to be before Indiana’s deadline,” she said.

For first-time applicants, filling out the FAFSA can be intimidating. To ease some of that stress, Ivy Tech is planning to offer virtual FAFSA assistance to students and families.

“We’re going to be focusing on multiple groups, like incoming freshmen and dual credit students.”

This event will be RSVP only with more information and established dates coming soon.  

Other tips Runyan gave included:

  • Ensure that applicants are filing for the correct award year
  • Find information downloads regarding the Indiana FAFSA
  • Review institution websites for any other financial aid steps
  • Participate in other financial aid events like College Goal Sunday to get more assistance 

Filing for the FAFSA can be a great way to plan for students and families to plan for the future, even if it seems small.

“It’s just beneficial to do. Some people think they don’t qualify, but you really never know what an institution has in scholarships or endowments themselves,” Runyan said.

To RSVP for one of Ivy Tech’s upcoming virtual FAFSA workshops, visit