‘FAFSA frenzy’ event at Fontbonne University helps families with forms

Whether incoming or returning, college students and their parents have numerous opportunities to get help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, with 29 FAFSA Frenzy events in the St. Louis area among 97 throughout the state of Missouri.

Fontbonne University will host one of them, on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. Six financial aid professionals will be on hand to assist in filling out the financial aid forms.

It isn't just for prospective or current Fontbonne students either. FAFSA Frenzy is open to all college students, whether they'll attend public or private schools, Catholic or otherwise, this fall.

"We won't wear Fontbonne colors at all," said Matthew Kearney, Fontbonne's director of financial aid. "We're just there to help fill out FAFSA wherever they decide to go."

Including Kearney, four members of the Fontbonne financial aid office will be there to assist students and families. In addition, St. Louis University and Commerce Bank each will send a representative. Incoming college freshmen and their families make up the bulk of people seeking help with FAFSA.

"It's brand new to them," Kearney said. "They're more likely to come in and do this sort of thing. A returning student might be more like, 'I've done this before,' but we still have current students who will come in and get help."

Two weeks out from the event, 15 students had RSVP'd, which might portend to a larger turnout than last year at Fontbonne's first FAFSA Frenzy. Kearney estimated that Fontbonne helped 30 students last year, but that was over two months, not just the one-day event.

"We had a lot of different ways to engage folks last year," said Joseph Havis, Fontbonne's vice president of enrollment management. "We were present that day, but people could also call and we'd walk them through it."

According to Havis, FAFSA Frenzy is a reminder that students "need to file this form to be eligible for as much financial support as they can get," which fits Fontbonne's mission of providing access to quality education. In addition to state and federal aid programs, Fontbonne has about $9 million available for merit scholarships and other aid, including an automatic $2,000 scholarship for incoming students from Catholic high schools.

"We really pride ourselves in being a private institution that provides access and affordability," Havis said. 

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