Seniors Seek Scholarships and Fight for FAFSA


A slide showing the dates for upcoming FAFSA completion workshops over the next months.

Eric Kim, Reporter

Unlike most students, Senior Natalie Ma is familiar with FAFSA and scholarships and how they apply to the college application process. Ma found out about these opportunities, “ through my older sister and upperclassmen friends from past years.”

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used by colleges throughout the U.S. to determine eligibility for federal, state and campus-based financial aid. These financial aids can include scholarships, work study programs, and all Federal student and parent loan programs. 

Senior Dareen Atieh is planning on applying for FAFSA because “ there is nothing to lose if I apply and there’s a chance of getting money.” Senior Gabe Combs is also applying for the FAFSA because he has “been told it is needed” for college applications. 

The FAFSA can only be completed online at The FAFSA opened on Oct. 1 and should be completed as soon as possible but colleges have different deadlines for when it should be completed.

In order to fill out the FAFSA, students and their parents should have a few things on hand. Both the student and parent should create their own Federal Student Aid (FSA) username and password at, ideally three days prior to completing the FAFSA. The FSA ID is used to fill out the FAFSA and to access and change the FAFSA after it has been submitted. Students should also have their social security number, alien registration number ( if not a U.S. citizen), 2021 federal tax return, bank statements and records of investments, and records of untaxed income ( if applicable), according to

Another way students can get free money for college is through scholarships. Scholarship money is gifted to students by the college or university they plan to attend through merit (good grades) or need-based ( student’s ability to pay for college). Each college has different deadlines for their scholarships so it is important to research or email the college you chose. 

There are tons of different kinds of scholarships that every person can apply for. There are scholarships for your ethnicity and even ones just for being left-handed. Researching scholarships that you can apply for is essential. 

Atieh said, “I use scholarship search websites and the links the school gives us on schoology.” 

Westerville South Counselor Jennifer Stovall said, “Westerville is amazing at paying it forward for WCS students.” Stovall said students can begin applying for a number of community scholarships in December, which is when a list is generated and distributed to seniors.  

Students have around two-weeks to choose what scholarships they want and when the Scholarship Gateway Application opens mid-December, students can apply to the scholarships they chose. 

Combs said, “I have been looking at scholarships on the college’s website, but I also plan on using the ones the school gives us.”

For seniors and parents who still aren’t sure what to do, Westerville hosts help sessions where families can gather and fill out the FAFSA. At these help sessions, college financial aid representatives will be present to be able to help and answer all the questions you may have. Sessions are on Nov. 9 at South, Dec. 1 at North, and Jan. 18 at South; all sessions are between 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

South has already hosted a help session for students to learn more about how to navigate through Schoolinks, which also provides a great scholarship matching feature. 

Atieh said, “The help session at South was very helpful…they showed me how to connect my CommonApp with Schoolinks and taught me how to ask for recommendation letters from my teachers.” 

Stovall said, “All students can and should apply for FAFSA and scholarships.” Ma recommends everyone apply because “it won’t hurt you in the long run.”