Special to 1812Blockhouse

The Richland County Foundation has shared important updates about the student aid process for local high school seniors, including filing the FAFSA and applying for Foundation-issued scholarships. Earlier this week, it shared:

“Delays announced by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will cause changes to the Richland County Foundation’s (RCF) college scholarship application process this year. Students must begin the application before or by the April 1 deadline. The Foundation will offer extensions to those students to await their accurate FAFSA information.

How do the FAFSA Delays Impact the RCF Scholarship Program?

RCF is committed to ensuring students are awarded scholarships based on the financial need determined by using the Student Aid Index (SAI) and accurate tuition packages. Due to the FAFSA interruption, colleges will be slower to provide tuition packages.

                RCF College Scholarship Criteria

  • Richland County resident or a graduate of a Richland County high school
  • GPA of 2.5 for first time applicants, 2.0 for past RCF scholarship recipients
  • Demonstration of financial need which is determined using the SAI and the college tuition package.

If you are submitting a College Scholarship Application:

  • You must start the application by April 1. Applications created before or by April 1 will be offered an extension to give extra time to attach the FAFSA Submission Summary and report the SAI. The form will not be available to new applicants after April 1. The date of the extension is TBD; we will post and email deadline updates.
  • Complete the other sections of the application but WAIT to SUBMIT until you have your FAFSA Submission Summary. You can access the full application. Complete ALL the other sections in full but wait to officially submit your application until you have the correct FAFSA Submission Summary and reported SAI.
  • Complete and send the Permission to Financial Aid Form (PFAO) to all the schools you are considering. In addition to filling out the RCF application, you MUST complete and send the PFAO to the financial aid office at your chosen college. The college cannot share needed information with RCF until they’ve received the student’s consent (per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). If you are considering multiple schools, send the form to each of them. This will keep the application review process moving once the FAFSA information is attached.
  • Do not use your high school email address. If you are a current high school senior, do not use a high school email address to create the application. It is possible the award determinations will not be made until after you graduate. All communications, including award decisions, are shared through email.

Due to the new timeline for awards, RCF will not be able to participate in recognizing students at the senior award ceremonies. Although this is disappointing, we know it might mean a student receives more scholarship opportunities by waiting for more accurate information.

The Basics of the FAFSA Delays:

  • A new and updated FAFSA form was made available to students on December 30, 2023, three months later than the typical October 1 access date.
  • In late January 2024, an announcement was made by Federal Student Aid of an additional delay as a result of needing to update supporting tables used in the Student Aid Index calculation, that will help account for inflation and provide over $1.8 billion more in aid for eligible students. More than three million applicants submitted their forms before the announcement; those forms will be prioritized for updated calculations before those actively submitting forms after the announcement.
  • This update impacts when students and colleges will receive the information, in turn, it delays tuition-packaging timelines for colleges.

The Federal Student Aid Knowledge Center, is the best resource to find current information about the status of data processing for those who have are or planning to complete the FAFSA in preparation for the upcoming academic year (2024-2025). If you have not started the FAFSA form yet, we recommend you do so as soon as possible. It will not be beneficial to wait.

For more information, email Siera Marth-May ([email protected]) or Bobby Rhea ([email protected]), or call 419-525-3020.

RCF has been supporting the educational needs of Richland County students by awarding scholarships since 1958. In 2023, over $900,000 was awarded for college and career technical education (CTE) scholarships.”

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