First lady Michelle Obama visited a Virginia high school near Washington on Wednesday to urge high school seniors around the country to fill out the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
“You all are blessed to have this kind of support in the college process. And we know that there are other schools with great counselor programs and great principals and great faculty that are doing the same thing, but not every kid has that. And that’s why we want to lift this up so that more kids around the country have the kind of support and know about the resources that you all have at your disposal,” the first lady told the group of seniors at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.
“For those of you who might be wondering why the First Lady is here just to watch you fill out a computer form, it’s because completing this form is a critical start to completing your education. And as the president and I will continue to stress over the next several years and beyond to young people throughout this country, completing your education – whether it’s a 2-year or 4-year college, or vocational program – is the single most important thing you can do for your future. That is it.”
But first, she said: "Fill out those forms. Fill them out! Don't leave money on the table."
The FAFSA is used by the government and schools and private organizations to determine whether a student qualifies for need-based financial aid, including loans, grants and work-study programs, which are part-time jobs on campus for college students.
“On top of helping you pay for school, work-study gave me some of the best experiences that I’ve ever had – I ran a daycare center, I worked in an office. I did a lot of really interesting things in college, and it really made a difference,” the first lady said.
She said that GetSchooled.com is planning to help students and families with advice on the form. The government site StudentAid.gov also has information.
“Too bad that didn’t happen 50 years ago when I was going to school,” she said, making the group laugh, “but better late than never.”
As she often does, Obama spoke of her own experiences as a student and thanked her parents, who didn’t go to college themselves but helped her figure out the steps to getting in. “Even if it made them uncomfortable, they pushed outside of their comfort zones to help me figure this out,” she said. “And for that, I will always be grateful. I wouldn’t be here without that kind of support.”