Hi! My name is Fred Ha and I work for StepUp to Higher Education as a FAFSA specialist at Granger High. I’m excited to share FAFSA Success Stories from some of my students.





Working hard, either academically or at work, is important because it builds character, provides many opportunities, and overall will lead to success and financial well-being. However, this is only part of the picture as many difficult life circumstances can hinder the desired outcome from putting in hard work. This was particularly true for one student.  His father’s recent death led to many obstacles. The student had explained in our first meeting how he wanted to go to college, but his mom working two jobs and still struggling to support the family, which made him rethink this path. The most memorable part of this meeting was when the student had explained how his mother wanted him to go to college, but he pushed that option out of his mind because he thought adding this financial burden to his mom would be too much to handle. However, after revealing to him how much the full Pell Grant offered and how much tuition was for schools, he seemed much more open to the idea of college. During the meeting, I also explained to him how much I’ve personally paid for additional items for college, such as books, a parking pass, etc. to help him gauge about how much he could be paying out of pocket. After understanding what other expenses would be part of his total cost for college besides tuition, he had a much clearer picture of how much money college would cost for him and how much the Pell Grant could help. During the second meeting of actually filling out the FAFSA, we weren’t just talking about the financial questions at hand, but we were also discussing in detail what majors he was considering. It was during this second meeting that I was able to see the quick transition from a student who believed financial difficulties would impede his academic career to a student who was ready to take on any challenges college offered, and it was all due to the help from the FAFSA!

Why Students Should File the FAFSA

A common stereotype is that college tuition is expensive. Since this is a major driving force for whether or not people attend college, it’s a clear problem, but there is an answer to it. The FAFSA is a great tool because of how much it has helped fund the success of students all over the U.S.

There are many reasons why every student should file a FAFSA:

  1. It’s free! The very first reason why you should file the FAFSA is that you don’t have to pay for it. You can rest easy knowing that it’s only here to help you.
  2. It can save you thousands of dollars on tuition! The main reason why people fill out the FAFSA is to see how much financial aid they qualify for. This helps people not just get the Pell Grant, but also can offer work-study and federal student loans if they need extra help.
  3. There are many resources available to help you! There are many difficult sections of the FAFSA that students may not know the answer to, but there are many people  you can reach out to. In addition to the faculty at your school, you can reach out to StepUp Utah if you have any questions when filling it out.
  4. It is a requirement for many scholarships! Many scholarships now are requiring students to have a FAFSA filled out before applying, such as the Regents’ Scholarship.

These are only a few examples of why students should file the FAFSA, which just provides further evidence of its importance. If you are a student and have not filed your FAFSA yet, get it done as soon as possible to help you fulfill your unlimited potential in your academic career!

If you need help completing the FAFSA, reach out to StepUp for help at outreach@utahsbr.edu.

Fred Ha is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) expert with StepUp Utah who works with students at Granger High School to complete the FAFSA to get to college. If you need help completing the FAFSA, reach out to StepUp for help at outreach@utahsbr.edu.