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MOHELA's Foundation Announces Awarding of Critical Funding to Help Boost FAFSA Completion Rates Across Missouri Communities

ST. LOUIS, June 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- MOHELA announced the awarding of critical funding for Missouri's student community through its Foundation, the Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation. MOHELA's Foundation awarded over $88,600 in funding to support more than 110 community events hosted by local colleges, universities, high schools, and nonprofit organizations across 70 Missouri counties through its Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Mission-Mini Grants program.

"We anticipated challenges with the rollout of the new FAFSA for 2024-2025, but no one predicted the extent of the delay and glitches students and families would face when trying to complete the form," said Melissa Findley, Executive Director of the Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation. "Our Mission-Mini Grants provide essential funding to ensure Missouri's student community is well-informed on the latest FAFSA changes, best positioning students to access critical financial aid assistance for their higher education journey and boosting our state's overall FAFSA completion rates."

The goal of the Foundation's FAFSA Completion Mission-Mini Grants program is to boost FAFSA completion rates in Missouri by supporting community events that provide educational resources and tools to help high school counselors, students and families better understand the application process and the overall importance of the FAFSA program for accessing critical financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), which includes federal grants, scholarships, and loans. The FAFSA information is also used by schools and nonprofits to determine eligibility for non-federal grants, scholarships, and loans.

"Many students rely on FAFSA and the financial assistance it provides to pursue their higher education goals," said Scott Giles, CEO and Executive Director of MOHELA. "FAFSA completion is one of the most important steps students can take to pay for college, but the confusion surrounding the rollout of this year's new FAFSA program presented unprecedented challenges for families navigating the application process. This year's challenges make the Foundation's commitment to boosting FAFSA completion in our communities more valuable than ever."

The Foundation's Mission-Mini Grants, which totaled $91,693 for the 2023-2024 academic year, provided financial support for FAFSA events in 70 counties across Missouri, as shown in the map. The Foundation awarded an initial $50,000 in FAFSA completion grants by the end of February 2024 (indicated by green check marks). To support the rise in community demand for additional resources to address the ongoing challenges students faced with the rollout of the new program, the Foundation began awarding the second round of funding in March 2024 (indicated by blue check marks).

MSLF Mission Mini Funding per Missouri County.

The delayed opening of the FAFSA application process and ongoing challenges with the rollout have affected students across the country. According to the National College Attainment Network's FAFSA Tracker, 39.8% of Missouri high school seniors had completed the 2024-2025 FAFSA as of May 31, 2024, which was below the national average of 43.3%. Compared to last year, Missouri has had a -13.2% change in FAFSA completion, compared to a -13.5% change nationally. Missouri is currently ranked 32nd nationally in FAFSA completions, emphasizing the importance of the work of MOHELA's Foundation to help increase the state's FAFSA completion rate.

The Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation was established by MOHELA in 2010 to enhance accessibility and affordability of higher education for Missouri families. In the last five years, the Foundation has assisted more than 8,500 students in the local community, distributing a total of $17.5 million in scholarships and grants, and $24.2 million in interest-free loans for Missouri students during the 2018-2023 academic years.

During the 2023-2024 academic year, MOHELA also contributed $6 million in total to Access Missouri, Missouri's A+ Program, and Bright Flight, which support student scholarships and grants. 

Learn about the Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation and its programs at moslf.org. Learn more about MOHELA's contributions to Missouri here.

About MOHELA   
MOHELA is a governmental non-profit organization with 40 years of experience and a track record of providing exceptional customer service to the borrowers it serves. MOHELA plays an essential role in the federal student loan ecosystem, providing support and assistance for around eight million federal borrowers on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). The organization is frequently named a top servicer in FSA quarterly surveys due to its commitment to providing high-quality customer service to their borrowers.

In 2023, MOHELA was proud to assist more than six million federal borrowers in their return to repayment. MOHELA's customer service team facilitated over 3.1 million customer service calls and processed more than 2.36 million Income-Driven Repayment Plan applications and over 2.58 million payments to the federal government on behalf of borrowers throughout 2023.

During MOHELA's time as the interim Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) servicer (July 2022 through April 2024), MOHELA processed nearly $55 billion in PSLF forgiveness for nearly 737,000 borrowers at the direction of FSA - a record-high for the government-run program. In the five-year period prior to MOHELA becoming the interim PSLF servicer, only about 165,000 borrowers had received $10.5 billion in loan forgiveness.

Media Contact: [email protected] 


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