NASFAA Publishes Tip Sheets for Unique Student Populations

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Applying for Financial Aid Can Be Especially Challenging for Nontraditional Students, But NASFAA’s Tip Sheets Can Help

Tip sheets for college students applying for financial aid.
Newly published tip sheets from NASFAA are designed to help unique student populations overcome these challenges to successfully navigate the financial aid process and access higher education.

As a new school year approaches, financial aid offices at colleges and universities across the country are preparing to assist students in navigating the financial aid process. And while many of these students are traditional young adults who enroll in college immediately following high school, attend on full-time basis, and have their parents to guide them, a growing population of college students face unique circumstances and backgrounds that can pose challenges when applying for financial aid.

Department of Education data reveal that while the majority of students qualify for some federal aid, 20 percent of undergraduate students failed to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, in 2011-12. Part of the problem may be that prospective college students don’t think they’ll qualify, but for some the problem could lie in the fact that they don’t have the support of parents or other family members who can help fill out forms or offer guidance through the process. This is particularly true of foster or homeless youth, adult learners, and members of the military or veterans.

These populations may also be more likely to get hung up on certain questions that traditional students would breeze past—such as questions about the number of people residing in the household or parental information—and give up on filing the FAFSA altogether. And undocumented students, while not eligible for federal student aid, often don’t realize there are other forms of financial help they can use to help pay for their higher education.

Newly published tip sheets from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) are designed to help unique student populations overcome these challenges to successfully navigate the financial aid process and access higher education. They are also valuable resources for higher education advocates that support these populations of students, including high school guidance counselors, college and university admissions staff, community organizations, and more.

The information included in the tip sheets can help several unique student populations, including:

“Students with unique circumstances often need more assistance navigating the financial aid process—and financial aid administrators are here to help,” NASFAA President Justin Draeger said. “No student should miss out on available financial assistance because they’re unsure how to answer a question on a form or don’t know what options are available to them. We encourage students and families to use all available resources to better educate themselves about their financial aid eligibility and options.A good first stop is an institution’s financial aid office, where they will find professionals to support them in whatever ways possible.”

NASFAA policy experts and financial aid administrators can discuss the challenges unique student populations face, and how to best serve them in your area. For more information, contact us at 202-785-6959 or news(at) to set up an interview.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

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Erin Powers
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