The FAFSA is critical, because it is required to apply for any federal student aid, such as Pell Grants, federal loans and work-study programs. The FAFSA also is utilized across the State University System when applying for most state and university-specific aid, which includes Bright Futures Scholarships.

“The timely submission of the FAFSA is key to ensuring that students take advantage of all opportunities for financial assistance,” said Florida Board of Governors Chair Ava L. Parker of Jacksonville.

Mary McKinney, executive director of Student Financial Assistance at the University of Central Florida, agrees.

“We launch a major campaign each and every year to ensure we reach as many students as possible,” McKinney said.

Students at UCF receive frequent communications about the FAFSA and deadlines. In addition, the university works with Central Florida high schools to ensure college-bound students understand the application process and its importance.

UCF partners with high schools and other local organizations to host workshops to provide information to students and families. UCF representatives work directly with families completing the necessary forms and applications.

“These partnerships are wonderful because we work as a team to reach thousands of students each year,” McKinney said.

Any student wanting to receive financial aid during the current summer term should fill out the 2010-2011 FAFSA before the deadline on Thursday, June 30, Board of Governors officials said. Financial aid offices also recommend filling out the 2011-2012 FAFSA as soon as possible for the new academic year in order to be considered for the maximum amount of aid for which they may qualify. Students must have “error-free” FAFSAs prior to receiving Bright Futures awards.

“The form, once completed and processed, will provide valuable information to university and college financial aid offices about student eligibility for many types of aid,” said Lynda Page, associate director in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs for the Board of Governors. “It is to the student’s benefit to submit FAFSA as soon as possible, since aid is generally on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, especially with federal dollars available for disbursement.”

For more information, see the federal government program’s website at www.FAFSA.ed.gov