College Students Leaving $3B In Grant Money Unclaimed By Not Filing FAFSA

College students and financial supporters of college students: Remember when we told you at the end of the year that you needed to get your Free Application for Federal Student Aid in ASAP? Maybe you pinned it on the cork board in the kitchen or made a mental note that disappeared as soon as you had to remember the finer points of the infield fly rule. It’s because people didn’t get around to filing their FAFSA that there are billions of dollars in unclaimed grant money just sitting around gathering dust like that post-it note on which you wrote “File FAFSA. Buy bread.”

A recent analysis of federal grant data by the wallet nerds at NerdWallet calculated that incoming college students failed to claim more than $2.9 billion in unclaimed grants by not filling out a form with a silly name.

Remember, this isn’t student loan money. This is grant money. Free money. It pays for school so you don’t have to. Ever.

And yet, 47% of 2013 high school grads didn’t fill one out, according to NerdWallet.

Roll over the interactive map below to see just how much Pell Grant money went unclaimed in your state.

In California alone, NerdWallet calculates that nearly $400 million was left on the table by the more than 100,000 eligible students who didn’t make a claim. The numbers were about the same for Texas, where more than $355 million in Pell Grant cash went unclaimed.

Even low-population states like Wyoming, Alaska, and the Dakotas — each with fewer than 2,000 students who may have been able to claim a Pell Grant — account for millions of dollars in unclaimed free college money.

Check out the full analysis on NerdWallet.

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