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Financial Aid Priority Deadline: What is it and How to Reengage Students?

By: TxCAN   |   December 2022

The Financial Aid Priority Deadline is approaching. Below we share possible student scenarios and solutions that can assist you in strategically encouraging all your students to meet this critical deadline.

The Financial Aid Priority Deadline is approaching. What does this mean and what can you do to help students meet the priority deadline? Below TxCAN shares possible student scenarios and solutions that can assist you in strategically encouraging all your students to meet this critical deadline.  

Financial Aid Priority Deadline: What is it and Why is it Important?  

Every year, the financial aid priority deadline for both federal (FAFSA) and state (TASFA) financial aid is January 15. Students may be eligible to receive more funds if they apply before that date. Submitting the FAFSA/TASFA early could lead to receiving more Texas Grants. For the TASFA, missing the priority date can result in little to no student aid.  

Let’s discuss strategies you can implement to encourage students in various scenarios to meet the priority deadline.   

Choices, choices, so many choices!  

Do you have students still weighing their postsecondary options? You know, the students whose college wish list may include 20 schools or more and who are considering a few majors but can’t narrow it down to one.  These students may need extra support in thinking through their options before completing their financial aid applications.  

How to help:

  • Use Remind or any other mass text messaging tool your school uses to reach them. Communicate the priority deadline to all seniors and share a poll or short survey to gauge how many students have submitted their FAFSA and have a postsecondary plan. Include a question in the poll or survey that could help you generate feedback on  students’ postsecondary planning confidence. For example, “How confident are you feeling about your plan after high school?”. Then reach out to the students who indicated low confidence, and provide them with support in filtering their school and degree options.  

  • Share as many resources as possible regarding college and financial aid processes via email or Remind. Think Big Future, Niche, Federal Student Aid. Share links to these very valuable websites.  Your students can use these tools and resources to weigh their different career options and see how completing their financial aid application is a step in reaching their career goals.   

Can we talk about the future? 

Do you have a senior who is involved in several activities and can’t seem to find time to complete their FAFSA? This is the senior who is a part of the drill team, the National Honor Society, or has a part-time job on the weekends. Their schedules fill up rather quickly with all their present commitments. However, they need support taking steps toward their future.   

These students may be too focused on the present. They become so focused on their social life and current responsibilities that thinking about the future is not on their radar. This is a common scenario for students who have yet to complete their FAFSA.  

 How to help: 

  • Explain the process in small manageable steps. Ask them to secure their parents’ 2021 taxes, create an FSA ID, and then start their FAFSA. These small manageable steps will help these students be on track to start or complete their FAFSA. A great resource that may be helpful to these students is the UAspire’s Financial Aid Checklist!  

  • If counselors or advisors have the capacity, send a meeting request to students with an incomplete FAFSA requirement. Ask them to stop by your office for a handout with instructions to complete their FAFSA/TASFA. The link above includes a helpful, printable graphic created by the College Investor. And while students are there, go ahead and schedule a meeting with students and their parents to complete their financial aid application. Remember busy students have many commitments and it’s important that you become a part of their calendar too!  

  • Leverage the administration, coaches, and teachers. These students rely on easy and familiar people for advice and support so connect them with individuals who can guide them. You can share the following infographic from the College Investor with campus staff to share in their classes or teams.   

Let's get it done! 

Then there are those students who are not shy to ask for help. They proactively seek support when needed. You know this type of student by their name. They likely visit your office on a weekly if not daily basis. They are not afraid to send an email with their questions and concerns. You know you can count on them to be on top of their deadlines. They know what they want their future to look like and they are not afraid to pursue it!  

How to help:

  • The truth is these students are very likely to have already completed their FAFSA/TASFA or are in the process of seeking support to complete their FAFSA/TASFA. These students tend to be on top of their deadlines. Is there an opportunity to use them as peer support? Yes! Identify which students have completed their financial aid application at your school and reach out for support. Ask them to reach out to their friends/classmates regarding the priority deadline. You can even provide these students with volunteer hours if they help spread the word by setting up a table on your campus to share resources and information about the priority deadline and financial aid applications.  

  • Reach out to your school’s student council. Is there an opportunity to task them with a priority deadline marketing campaign for your high school? Consider placing posters in high traffic areas around campus, making frequent announcements, or conducting a messaging and social media campaign.   

We know it’s a daunting task to try to have all your seniors meet the Financial Aid Priority Deadline. The goal is to help you case manage and plan a better student engagement strategy during this critical time. We know time is crucial and we hope one of our strategies will help you make the best use of your time!

The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.