Get help with college financial aid


Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.

If you have children in college, a graduating high school senior headed to college, or you are an adult looking to attend college or a trade school, you can receive help to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, at College Goal Sunday.

Facts

FAFSA HELP

What: Florida College Goal Sunday for help with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for those heading to college or in college.
When: 2-4 p.m. Feb. 24.
Where: Santa Fe College, Building I, Room 50, 3000 NW 83rd St; Eastside High School, Room 2006, 1201 SE 45th

It will be held from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 24 at Santa Fe College, Building I, Room 50 at 3000 NW 83rd St. and also at Eastside High School, Room 2006 at 1201 SE 45th Terrace. Eastside also will offer FAFSA help during Financial Aid Night for Seniors and Parents, which will held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, also at the school.

And there will be a drawing for a $500 scholarship for undergraduate students.

The FAFSA is necessary to receive federal financial aid, including grants, which is money you don't have to pay back, and loans, which you do have to pay back. The FAFSA also is also used by state colleges and other institutions of higher learning to determine a student's eligibility for their financial aid programs and scholarships.

In addition, students who plan to attend college in Florida also must complete the Florida Financial Aid Application in order to receive funds, if eligible, from the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program and other state financial aid.

For those who cannot attend either of the events, the FAFSA can be completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Bill Goodman, supervisor of guidance and student services at Alachua County Public Schools, said parents, students and anyone needing help with the FAFSA and the Florida Financial Aid Application can attend College Goal Sunday and Financial Aid Night.

"We also provide an overview of financial aid opportunities," said Goodman, adding that there will be information available about the Education Foundation of Alachua County scholarships for graduating seniors.

Goodman said parents and students unable to attend College Goal Sunday or Financial Aid Night also can get help by calling 352-955-7671 ext. 264.

Maureen McFarlane, director of financial aid at SF College, said during College Goal Sunday, the doors will open at 2 p.m. and it's not necessary to arrive earlier.

"There is no need to get here earlier because everyone will be served," McFarlane said. "We will stay until everyone is served."

To prepare for College Goal Sunday and to submit the FAFSA electronically, a pin number is needed for both the student and parents. To apply for a pin number, which acts as an electronic signature and makes the application process faster, visit www.pin.ed.gov.

McFarlane said last year, 200 parents and students attended College Goal Sunday at SF College. "Students may bring their parents or they can come alone," she said.

The following information is needed to complete the FAFSA:

— A 2012 federal income tax return (IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ) for parents, students and spouses, if married. If the 2012 return is not available, bring the 2011 return and make the changes to your FAFSA once your 2012 taxes have been completed.

— W-2 forms and other records of money earned in 2012, such as child support, Social Security and welfare payments of parents, students and spouses, if married.

— 2012 bank statements.

— A 2012 Florida Prepaid surrender value statement, mortgage information, business and farm records, stocks, bonds and other investments.

"Even if you don't think you qualify for need-based financial aid, the FAFSA is required to qualify for scholarships and loans," McFarlane said. "It's important to file the FAFSA early for students to get the most money available to them."

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