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When Applying For Federal Aid, ‘Cross Your Fingers And Hope’

Every year, more than 20 million students apply for federal financial aid to help pay for college. Five years ago, Mandy Stango was one of them. To get there, though, Stango felt confused and woefully unprepared.

That confusion started with the very first step in the process, as she and her family had to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA. “I sat there, I read the directions, and crossed my fingers and hoped I was doing the right thing,” says Stango, who’s now 23.