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TSD Offers FASFA Support to Parents

TSD is encouraging families with graduating seniors struggling to fill out the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – to contact Toppenish High School's GEAR UP team for assistance.

Every college student, whether they are new or returning, must submit the FAFSA form to be eligible for federal grants and loans. In most cases, the FAFSA is also used to determine scholarship eligibility and financial aid from colleges as well.

This past year, the government tried to make the form easier to fill out, but the changes resulted in several delays. The form came out months later than usual and still has several outstanding issues, making it harder for students to determine how much funding they can get for tuition in the 2024/2025 school year.

The result is that fewer students have completed the FAFSA, and colleges and universities are behind schedule in getting financial aid award letters to prospective students who are deciding where to enroll next year.

Of particular concern to TSD officials is that parents who do not have a social security number and must use their ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) are encountering problems with the forms and it’s delaying their children’s applications.

“We anticipate we’ll be helping our students fill out their forms well into the summer months this year,” says Cesar Hernandez, GEAR UP Director. “We encourage parents to contact us for help because the process for parents using their ITIN number has been complicated and confusing.”

The purpose of the GEAR UP team is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Hernandez says they are committed to making sure all Toppenish students can successfully navigate the FAFSA submission process.

Colleges and universities usually give students a deadline of May 1, commonly known as “college decision day,” to say whether they intend to enroll in the fall and in some cases to pay a deposit. Several schools, but not all, have said that they will push back the deadline this year due to the problems with the FAFSA.

“Students should remain in contact with their schools of choice and talk to the financial aid departments to make sure they understand how the schools are approaching the next school year and the FAFSA delays,” says Hernandez.

If you need help filling out attestation forms, please stop by the College and Career Center between 7:30 am and 4 pm. Parents with questions can reach the GEAR UP Team through the THS website or by calling the high school at 509-865-3370.