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gua: FAFSA time: Complete on the Web or at College Goal Sunday

COLLEGE GOAL SUNDAY


Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 7:54 p.m.

If you already have a child in college or a graduating senior headed for college this fall,or you're an adult looking to attend college or trade school, now is the time to submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form.

Facts

COLLEGE GOAL SUNDAY

What: College Goal Sunday, where rising college students can get help completing the Free Appliation for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
When: Jan. 31; 2-4 p.m., Building N, Room 216, Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St. and 2-5 p.m., Eastside High School, 1201 SE 45th Terrace.
Cost: Free.
Information: Call Santa Fe at 352-395-5481 or Alachua County Pubilc Schools at 352-955-7671 ext. 268.

The FAFSA is necessary to receive federal financial aid, including grants, which is money you don't have to pay back, work study, and loans that you do have to pay back.

The FAFSA is also used by state colleges and other institutions of higher learning to determine eligibility for their financial aid programs.

Maureen McFarlane, associate director of Financial Aid at Santa Fe College, said the FAFSA is available now online and students who can complete the FAFSA online will benefit.

She said financial aid is awarded based on the FAFSA application date for some scholarships and awards with limited funding at Santa Fe College.

"The student that submits the FAFSA early gets the most available grant and scholarship funding at SFC," said McFarlane. "Procrastinating is not a good thing when it comes to financial aid funding."

McFarlane said all students should submit a FAFSA even if they think they don't qualify for need-based financial aid because they may qualify for scholarships and loans.

"The bottom line is that everyone that fills out a FAFSA gets some kind of money," said Bill Goodman, supervisor of Guidance and Student Services for the Alachua County School Board. "The state grant money is first-come first-served, so the sooner you apply the better."

Goodman said parental income and family contribution play a major role to determine how much financial aid the student will receive. He said about 50 percent of students in Alachua County are enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program, and "if they complete a FAFSA they're likely to access free money," Goodman said. "Our goal is to identify these kids and do what we can to help parents complete the FAFSA."

Goodman said the first thing on the list should be to get a pin number for both students and the parents. To apply for a pin number, which acts as an electronic signature and makes the application process faster, visit www.pin.ed.gov. However, if you don't have a pin number, you can still submit a signature page with your FAFSA.

You can complete a FAFSA and get online help at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can also get help to complete the FAFSA at College Goal Sunday to be held on Jan. 31 from 2-4 p.m. in Building N, Room 216 at Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St., or from 2-5 p.m. at Eastside High School, 1201 SE 45th St.

To complete the FAFSA, the following information is needed:

2009 federal income tax return (IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ) for parents, students and/or spouses, if married. If the 2009 return is not available, bring the 2008 return.

W-2 forms and other records of money earned in 2009.

Untaxed income records, such as child support, Social Security, and welfare payments of parents, students and/or spouses in married.

2009 bank statements.

2009 Florida Prepaid surrender value statement, business and investments, mortgage information, business and farm records, stocks, bonds and other investments.

"We encourage students who can to complete the FAFSA now on the Web site," said McFarlane, "and if they need help to come to College Goal Sunday."

She said last year, 160 students participated in College Goal Sunday at SFC.

Again this year, McFarlane said 150 computers and 30 financial aid counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help students and their parents complete the FAFSA online during College Goal Sunday.

"It will be one-on-one assistance," McFarlane said.

For more information, call SFC at 352-395-5481 or Alachua County Public Schools at 352-955-7671 ext. 268.

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