On Wednesday, Michelle Obama told a group of high school students and parents that they should not be deterred from applying to college because of financial concerns, but should apply for federal student aid.
“Fill out those forms, fill them out!” Mrs. Obama exhorted. “Don’t leave money on the table.”
Speaking at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., a few miles outside Washington, she gave her advice as deadlines approach for college-bound students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as Fafsa.
“Unfortunately, too many students don’t even bother to apply to college because they don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford it,” she added. “So they just walk away from the opportunity without getting any advice or seeking any support.”
Mrs. Obama has been very involved in an initiative that by 2020 seeks to make the US the first place in the world for its number of college graduates.
The first lady praised the Department of Education for helping simplify the process of filling the aid application.
The Obama administration has shortened the online form and added a tool that transfers information from tax returns directly into it. They have also shortened the average time it takes to fill the application from an hour four years ago to 21 minutes.
The event in Alexandria was part of an effort by Get Schooled, a nonprofit group that works in partnership with Viacom and uses television, social media and celebrities to encourage students to graduate from high school and go to college.