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How Students Missed Out on $2.3 Billion in Free College Aid

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The high school class of 2017 left as much as $2.3 billion in free federal grant money for college on the table, according to a new analysis by NerdWallet. Free money went unclaimed due to students not completing or submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Filling out the FAFSA is the key to unlocking financial aid for college, including federal, state and institutional money. Federal aid includes Pell Grants, which are awarded to undergraduate students from low-income families. Unlike student loans, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. They are awarded based on financial need — determined via the FAFSA — and other factors. The maximum Pell amount for the 2017-18 school year is $5,920.

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