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SUNY Old Westbury student Fida Siddiqui provides guidance and advice to a family from Westbury about the new FAFSA. (Contributed photos)

SUNY Old Westbury ‘Completion Corps’ Helping Students, Families Complete The FAFSA

Farmingdale resident Fida Siddiqui has been named a member of the SUNY Old Westbury FAFSA Completion Corps, a group of students working in the community to help prospective college students and their families understand and complete the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and process.

Old Westbury has built a team of students to help prospective students and their families navigate the FAFSA form, which helps determine a student’s eligibility for financial aid. A recent visit to Westbury High School is one of multiple off-site pop-up venues that the team will conduct in the coming months. While at Westbury, the students offered one-on-one guidance with students and parents in preparing for and completing the FAFSA.

The students participating in the Westbury High School event were (from left to right) Me’khi Vanterpool, Sydney Theresa Royal, Paula Mendoza de Escalante, Fida Siddiqui, Keshun Stanley Bunn, and Nahiyan Islam.

“The changes made to the FAFSA have simplified in many ways the process of applying for aid,” said Dr. Bryan Terry, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at SUNY Old Westbury. “For many families, though, and especially those who are sending their first to college, there remain nuances and needs that can be hard to understand. Through these student leaders, our goal is to ease the process and to help students get all the aid available to them.”

Along with visits like the Westbury event, the team at SUNY Old Westbury is planning office hours, campus events, and both in-person and virtual visits to other regional high schools.

The SUNY Old Westbury FAFSA Completion Corps team is led by Jaclyn Congello, the University’s director of orientation, and is comprised of 10 students. The students participating in the Westbury High School event were: Keshun Stanley Bunn of Brooklyn, Annie Chavez of the Bronx, Nahiyan Islam of Mastic, Paula Mendoza de Escalante of Glen Cove, Sydney Theresa Royal of Elmont, Fida Siddiqui of Farmingdale, and Me’khi Vanterpool of Floral Park.

To arrange a visit by the SUNY Old Westbury FAFSA Completion Corps to your school or community organization, contact Congello at [email protected].

The Old Westbury students are making this effort as part of the State University of New York FAFSA Completion Corps, a program announced last fall where as many as 48 students across six SUNY campuses are being trained to provide FAFSA assistance to high school students, adult learners, and enrolled college students in their region through financial aid nights, working with community organizations, and interacting on campuses.

FAFSA is the starting point for most federal and state financial aid. The updated 2024-25 form, which launched on Dec. 31, expands eligibility for federal student aid, including Pell Grants, and provides a streamlined user experience with fewer questions.

Approximately 610,000 new students from low-income backgrounds will be eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants due to updates to student aid calculations. Plus, applicants will be able to skip as many as 26 questions, depending on their individual circumstances. Some applicants may be required to answer as few as 18 questions, which could take less than 10 minutes.

—Submitted by SUNY Old Westbury

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