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Volunteers needed for Tampa Bay area financial aid nights

Each year, more than half of the students who would qualify for free federal aid for their education do not complete the required application to receive the funding. Recent research shows that in Florida more than 40,000 students who would have been eligible to receive an average of almost $4,000 in Pell Grants didn’t receive federal aid simply because they did not submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) .

It’s no wonder – given the detailed financial information it requires, completing the FAFSA can be intimidating. Some families also believe they won’t qualify for aid, so they don’t bother completing the form. But even if a student doesn’t qualify for a grant (money that doesn’t have to be paid back), they could qualify for other forms of aid, like subsidized loans or work-study.

With the 2020-2021 FAFSA opening on Oct. 1, you have an opportunity to help students complete this important step on the road to their future. Volunteers are needed for more than 20 financial aid nights scheduled this fall at high schools throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The volunteer commitment is approximately 2-3 hours per event and you can volunteer for one or multiple nights.

During an event, you’ll meet with parents and students to walk them through completing the application. If you’re concerned you don’t know enough to help – don’t worry! You’ll never be alone at an event. You’ll have the support of experienced education professionals and fellow volunteers. A half-hour online training video has also been created to get you up to speed on the FAFSA basics.

To meet school safety requirements, all volunteers will need to receive clearance from the school district for which you are most likely to volunteer.

Thanks to our partners at the United Way Suncoast, getting trained and registered to volunteer is easy – simply visit our online volunteer portal to learn more about the requirements and check out the schedule of upcoming events.

If you have additional questions about volunteering at an upcoming event, please contact Becky Gilmore, LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or call (813) 609-4866.

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