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Oct. 13–14: the “FAFSA/WASFA Fest” offers assistance for financial aid seekers

Students participate in a FAFSA Speed Filing Event
WSU students learn about filing student financial aid forms at FAFSA/WASFA Fest.

The Washington State University Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) will hold on Oct. 13-14 help sessions virtually by Zoom and in-person in Commons Building 210 for all students across the WSU system seeking to file federal and state forms for student financial aid. 

Sessions run from 3-5 p.m. and pizza will be served for those in person. All attendees are eligible for door prizes.  Registration and more information are available online. 

This is the sixth year that OAE’s professional staff and undergraduate peer advisors have assisted students on these days known as “FAFSA/WASFA Fest.” Students learn about, and complete, information on the rigorous forms known as FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and WASFA (Washington Application for State Aid) forms.

Abundant details about both are online, but the FAFSA is for current and prospective college students in the U.S. who seek to determine their eligibility to receive federal aid. The WASFA is for those who don’t file a federal FAFSA and are applying for state aid, including undocumented students or those who don’t qualify for federal financial aid for other reasons.

For all seeking financial aid

“Who should file these forms? Everyone!,” said Ray Acuña-Luna, director of OAE’s College Access Programs. “Every student should complete the FAFSA and WASFA forms by their Nov. 30 deadline to make sure they have the proper paperwork in order so they can be considered for loans, some scholarships, grants, work study, and waivers.

“It’s imperative that the forms be filed by the deadline. But it’s important to say that even after they’re submitted, they can be updated.” Visiting with OAE representatives in mid-October gives the students and their families about six weeks to complete the filings.

“Thousands of WSU students fill out these required forms every year, and many receive financial aid as a result,” said Kelly Demand, director of OAE’s College Affordability Programs. “This year, we in the OAE want to again make the process as stress-free as possible for as many students as we can.”

A safe place for help

“The OAE has been traditionally a safe place for students to get information about these awards, and they can ask us confidential questions that they may not be comfortable asking in other places,” said Ali Bretthauer, director of OAE’s College Success Programs.

“One thing to note is that FAFSA and WASFA forms need to be completed every year regardless of whether you’ve applied in the past,” said Bretthauer. 

OAE professionals and student advisors are experts prepared to guide students through the process of learning about and filling out the FAFSA and the WASFA forms.

“We are going to be there to demystify the process,” said Demand. “And to help students be advocates for themselves.”

Growing participation

Each year, said Bretthauer, more students take advantage of FAFSA/WASFA Fest. Fifteen were served in 2015, but that rose to 70 students in 2020—despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that few students were physically on campus.

“This year, we are hoping that many more students will meet with us.”

She said that the OAE effort is one of many across WSU to support students in completion of applications for aid. 

“We are working in concert with our institutional and student organizational partners to provide a safety net and ensure as many eligible students as possible are completing the forms with as little stigma or stress as possible.”

Students interested in the FAFSA/WASFA Fest should complete the registration form.  Those wanting virtual meetings will be given connection information.

“Anyone with questions after the mid-October events should contact the OAE to follow up,” Demand said. 

The OAE is a department in the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, part of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

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