SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – “The earlier, the better.” That’s what Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) is telling its students, as the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now open.
At least 65% of students at OTC complete the application process. One of those students is sophomore Hunter Posey.
“Currently using the A+ [scholarship] program, and it’s been great,” Posey said. “The ability for me to go to OTC and still stay at home, have time to work and have time to do all my recreational activities that I still want to do while I’m going to school. I have the ability to clear my head and really focus on school and still spend a quality two years with my parents and live at home. Also, saving a ton of money between gas, food and living in dorms.”
Posey is pursuing a behavioral science degree. Thanks to his A+ scholarship, he hasn’t had to worry about paying tuition.
“I want to one day become an attorney, and to do that, I have seven years of school,” Posey said. “That’s going to be expensive. So, the ability to cut out two years has been a huge advantage for my future.”
He says he plans to transfer to a four-year university next year.
“Pretty soon, I’ll be on my own,” Posey said. “Applying for FAFSA again, I may have better opportunities than I did even coming into college. Some people can go to a four-year university and over four years that costs you beaucoups of money. But the A+ Program has allowed me to stay home for one and also save two years of money for my Associate’s. and graduate entirely debt-free.”
Posey encourages others to apply for FAFSA after seeing a recent National Center for Education Statistics study.
“85 percent of students who apply for FAFSA receive some federal aid,” Posey said. “You can’t beat that.”
Kim Cary is the director of financial aid at OTC. She says those who are interested in filling out an application should visit studentaid.gov.
“Probably one of the most important things is to start early,” Cary said. “We want students to be able to check that box and say, ‘I know it’s done, and I know how much money I’m going to have for the fall semester when I start.”
But, she says getting people to fill out a form is a challenge.
“Well, they think, ‘I’m not going to get any money from this. I’m not eligible because I make too much money or my parents do,” Cary said. “It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s a federal process, and that’s just kind of scary to some people.
Cary says most concerns people have about FAFSA are misconceptions.
“We want to encourage them to complete the process because it’s a foundational application,” Cary said. “If you’re looking for scholarships, you need to make sure you complete this because most of them require it. Everyone should complete the process because you don’t know what the end result will be. There’s lots of money out there for students. There are lots of options and ways to receive scholarships and financial aid.”
Cary says she has seen more students apply for FAFSA during the pandemic. She also mentions that a low GPA doesn’t hurt someone’s chances of getting a scholarship in some cases.