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State of New Mexico and community partners encourage students to complete federal financial aid application

10/1/2021 | RISE NM

SANTA FE, NM – The New Mexico Higher Education and Public Education Departments are partnering with state organizations to help college-bound students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible to access federal scholarships and grants to pay for college. In addition  to federal programs, New Mexico has millions of dollars available via state scholarships for students who choose to attend a public college or university in-state.  

New Mexico education officials and community partners hosted a press conference at the Capitol on Friday to talk about the funds and helpful resources available to students and families this year.

“The great thing about going to college in New Mexico is that students can have their tuition fully covered by the state, and then use federal dollars to pay for other costs like housing, books, meal plans, and more,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said. “Filling out the FAFSA is crucial because it helps our colleges and universities award New Mexicans the most money they are eligible for every year.”  

"Every New Mexico senior should complete the FAFSA and explore state scholarship programs to find out how affordable college can really be," Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus said. "The State of New Mexico recognizes the importance of higher education and is providing millions to students this year, and federal dollars can help on top of that. Every eligible senior can expect to get assistance -- but it all starts with filling out the FAFSA form." 

The application opens October 1 each year and makes it possible for college students to access federal scholarships, grants, work-study, and other programs to help cover higher education costs. Eligible students can receive up to $6,495 for the 2021-2022 academic year via the Pell Grant, and between $100 and $4,000 via the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). Current high school seniors are encouraged to apply, but the application is available to any New Mexican seeking to enroll in college for the upcoming academic year.

Students and families should aim to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible, but no later than March 1, as some available funds are first come, first served. Some New Mexico schools have priority deadlines as early as December 1, so applicants should reach out to the financial aid office at the college or university they plan to attend to learn more.

“FAFSA has made it possible for me to attend Santa Fe Community College.  I am the first in my family to attend college, and without financial aid, I would not be able to further my education,” Santa Fe Community College student Jhenna Salas said.  

Students, parents, guardians, and counselors across the state are benefitting from FAFSA workshops and one-on-one sessions provided by state partners including College Connect New Mexico, the New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation, and the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s GEAR UP college readiness program.  

“I am proud to be a partner in leading the College Connect New Mexico efforts to provide a series of statewide FAFSA workshops to high school counselors and community organizations, deliver federal and state updates, and promote college and career applications,” College Connect New Mexico Director Dr. Jennifer Gomez-Chavez said.  “Our hope is to make students and their families aware of post-secondary opportunities and the various financial programs that can help them achieve their highest educational goals.”  

The New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation(NMEAF) is also offering a monthly drawing for $500 scholarships and other prizes for students who attend a virtual FAFSA workshop. More information and resources are available at fafsanm.gov.  

While the FAFSA can be complicated for first-time students and parents, experts are available to support applicants throughout the process. 

“Money Mondays are beginning Monday, Oct. 4, to provide virtual FAFSA assistance and college and career questions,” NMEAF Community Outreach Executive Ruben Reyes said.  “In addition, we provide a variety of services including financial aid information nights, Federal Student Aid ID sessions in classrooms, newsletters to high school counselors, texting notification reminders to students  and parents and mailing out FAFSA brochures to student and families.” 

More than 42,000 New Mexico students received Pell grants last year totaling $162.6 million, leaving an estimated $21.5 million unclaimed. The state agencies and partners  hope to reach a FAFSA completion rate of at least 70 percent for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Students and parents can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov and learn more about state scholarships at freecollegenm.org.  

Link: https://hed.state.nm.us/news/state-of-new-mexico-and-community-partners-encourage-students-to-complete-federal-financial-aid-application