FAFSA Frenzy Sites Expand Across the State

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COLUMBIA - Students and families filed into the Columbia Area Career Center Sunday to attend the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) FAFSA Frenzy.

MDHE increased its services by about 40 percent to allow more people to receive assistance completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. 

"Last year, we had, I believe, 56 sites and now we have 77 sites and 81 events," Jaron Vail said, outreach program specialist for MDHE. "We've dramatically expanded as far as sites around the state, and in that way, we hope to get more people in Missouri out."

Those who attended watched an informational video and were then sent to a computer lab to fill out FAFSA forms. About 10 volunteers helped families through the FAFSA process, and about half of those helpers were professional financial officers available for advice.

"Don't be afraid to ask any questions large or small just get all the questions out now because the professionals are here to help," Vail said.

Vail also said the more information applicants bring with them, the easier it is for the professionals to answer those questions.

"Have as much information as you can as far as tax information and financial information from your parents," Vail said. "Make sure the parents that you bring will be part of the FAFSA process and will be the ones filling out everything."

While FAFSA Frenzy generally caters to high school seniors, it welcomes any students in need.

"We do have underclassmen students or parents of underclassmen come in to get questions answered or to get familiar with the process," Vail said. "We do see that from time to time too at a lot of our sites, but it's mostly geared to seniros who are going into the college application process, get them familiar with the FAFSA and help them fill that out."

Vail said FAFSA Frenzy will award $500 scholarships to 16 people throughout the FAFSA Frenzy season, which runs from January through March. Those scholarships will be randomly drawn as prizes for those who participated in FAFSA Frenzy events.

Another FAFSA Frenzy session will be held at Hickman High School on Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.