Takeaway: Encouragement from her college advisor made all the difference for Tyshae when it came time to complete the FAFSA.

“I like school. The only thing I hate is having to get up so early,” Tyshae says with a laugh.

“I’m the salutatorian, which is the person after the valedictorian. I have to give a speech at graduation,” explains Tyshae. “I’m a little nervous, but I just have to stay calm. It’s just my friends and family. I was always a shy kid, so my confidence had to build up.”

Even though Tyshae was shy growing up, she always believed in herself.

“I never doubted that I’d go to college. I just always believed I could do it. Lots of people in my family didn’t go to college, but they really want me to have a good life and make good money.”

She has been preparing for college by taking college-level classes, too. “My counselor told me about the program and at first I thought it would be too much. But I’m glad I did it. Even though it can be pretty hectic, I’ve built up 34 credit hours. I’m pretty happy about that.”

Getting help from her college advisor
“My college advisor introduced the FAFSA to us, maybe at the end of 11th grade or the beginning of 12th,” Tyshae recalls.

“I didn’t really know what it was — whether it would be on paper or on the computer,” she says. But her college advisor was able to answer her questions. “My advisor was very encouraging, and he was looking out for me. He was always willing to help because he really wanted us to do the FAFSA.”

Filling out the FAFSA was easy, Tyshae says. “Some parts I did myself. One part I asked my mom for help. I have a free period at school, so I was able to go to my college advisor for help, too.”

But there were a few things that were hard: getting her mom’s FSA ID and getting selected for verification.

Figuring out the FSA ID and verification
“My older sister filled out the FAFSA when she graduated in 2013, so my mom already had an FSA ID. But she couldn’t remember it,” Tyshae explains.

“I am very thankful for my college advisor. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

“She couldn’t remember the answers to the secret questions or anything. It was like, we can’t break into this, so what are we going to do?”

“We got something either in the mail or by email that we could fill out to verify her identity. Then we were able to go ahead and finish the FAFSA.”

Then, Tyshae found out she was selected for verification. That means she had to provide additional proof of her mom’s income.

“It was pretty tough. There was a lot of waiting for things to get sent to us and then send to my school, stuff like that,” she says. She had to wait for documents from the IRS so she could send them to her college’s financial aid office.

But her determination paid off. “I got a Pell Grant, grants from the state of Ohio, loans and a scholarship. I’m getting around $30,000 in financial aid.”

“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s great!’ I just really hoped I would get it. I am very thankful for my college advisor. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

Tyshae’s advice: You never know what can happen

“Go to your college advisor or whoever can help you with filling out your FAFSA. Make an appointment and ask questions about the FAFSA so you will already be prepared,” says Tyshae.

She thinks every student should fill out the FAFSA. “Go for it. You never know what could happen,” she adds.

“And apply to as many scholarships as you can. You never know if you are going to get that money or not. At least you’ll have tried and then you might not have to take out any loans at all.”

Tyshae will be attending Youngstown State University and plans to major in business administration. She hopes to own a business one day.

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