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FAFSA Bolsters Educational Experience for Lusk’s Frye


February 14, 2011 — As a senior at Niobrara County High School in Lusk, Luke Frye filled out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) paperwork for the first time.

The aspiring accountant figured FAFSA aid, coupled with the Hathaway Scholarship, would significantly ease the financial burden as he pursued the first bachelor's degree in his family.

Then came bad news: Frye didn't receive any FAFSA funding.

"I thought, what a waste of time," recalls Frye, now a senior at the University of Wyoming.

The following spring, Frye again received the FAFSA form and didn't think twice about tossing it in the trash.

"I remember thinking to myself, ‘I didn't get any money last time, I'm not going to get any this time and I'm not filling it out,'" Frye says.

It wasn't until the summer between his sophomore and junior years that, upon hearing a friend's FAFSA success story, Frye decided to again fill out the paperwork. It's a good thing he did: Frye qualified for the highest level of FAFSA funding, a surprising result that has not only simplified his finances, but served as a springboard to unexpected educational experiences.

 "If I could give any advice to a college student, I'd tell them to fill it out, no matter what," Frye says. "It's significant money for anybody, especially any one my age and in my income bracket. There's a lot of help out there, including FAFSA, that we just don't know about and don't take advantage of."

There's no better time than now for current and prospective college students to learn about FAFSA. February is Financial Aid Awareness Month, the goal of which is to inform and educate students and their families about the many sources of financial aid available in the United States.

UW administers the $1.5 million Wyoming College Access Challenge Grant that provides funding for 12 different initiatives to assist current and prospective Wyoming college students. The goal of the grant is to increase access to and persistence in higher education.

"The College Access Challenge Grant has been extremely helpful to a number of needy students at Casper College and I am sure at the other community colleges, as well," says Darry Voigt, director of student financial assistance at Casper College. "These are students whose circumstances make it difficult for them to attend without assistance, yet those same circumstances can make it difficult or unwise for them to receive or utilize other types of assistance."

The injection of FAFSA funding has proved critical to Frye's experience at UW, covering the cost of his books and rent for the past two years. He also credits FAFSA for helping him to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., as an intern in Sen. John Barrasso's office and a study-abroad summer in France.

And, this summer, Frye will serve an internship at a Denver accounting firm.

"It's just been a huge help and, without it, I don't feel like my education would have been as complete as it has been," says Frye, who is serving this year as the director of finance for the Associated Students of Wyoming, the university's student government. "I think I'd even make it a requirement for every student to fill out the FAFSA. It can make such a difference in any student's education."

Upon graduation in December, Frye plans to apply for his certified public accountant (CPA) license and launch his professional career. 

Photo:
University of Wyoming student Luke Frye, from Lusk, views the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website at the Student Financial Aid office. February is Financial Aid Awareness Month.


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