$30 million in unused student financial aid in Colorado – CBS Denver

DENVER (CBS4) – It is well known that a higher education has a high cost. That’s why the federal government pays out more than $100 billion in student grants and loans every year. But every year there is a lot of money left on the table.

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In Colorado alone, some $30 million in financial aid goes unused, according to the Colorado Department of Education. That’s why Metropolitan State University Denver is working to help more students across the state get this money.

“It’s important that students have access to the money they’re entitled to,” said Ryan Smith, a Denver MSU.

Smith works as a peer for the university’s financial aid team. He said many students don’t complete the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), often because it’s intimidating.

“It’s not necessarily the easiest app,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “It has about 100 questions and it looks like you’re filling out your taxes. So it’s a bit opaque with not-so-readable financial questions.

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That’s why he joined the financial aid team – to help his peers get the support they need and deserve.

“I’m really passionate about trying to make sure students are actually able to enroll, get the money they’re entitled to and need to attend class,” he said. declared.

SECTION: Making Ends Meet

The university is also passionate about helping even more students access money available from both the federal and state governments. Dr. Will Simpkins is the Vice President of Student Affairs at MSU Denver. He said that currently around 30% of students do not submit the free applications, not only because the process can be overwhelming, but also because many believe they are not eligible.

“We looked at the data this year and the students who didn’t fill out one of these forms tend to be younger, tend to be white, tend not to be first generation,” Simpkins explained. . “Our hunch is that some of these students think they just won’t qualify for need-based aid, so why bother with the 100 questions.”

Simpkins said there was an effort at the federal level to simplify the FAFSA form, which would likely make a difference. However, he wants students to know that there is also state aid and everyone should apply.

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“Even if you think you’re not eligible, fill it out just in case,” he said.

After all, it made all the difference for students like Smith.

“I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Smith said. “Obviously college is an expensive process and our job is to help students through that.”

LINKS: MSUDenver Financial Aid | Federal Student Aid | Applying for State Financial Assistance in Colorado