Today: Jun 17, 2024

College Goal Sunday will Help Students Fill Out FAFSA

High school seniors, returning college students and anyone with a GED or high school diploma will have a chance to participate in College Goal Sunday, an event to receive help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The event will take place Sunday, Jan. 30, between 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 13 different site locations, which Southern is a part of, according to the CGS website.

Glenn Cassis, Connecticut College Goal Sunday statewide site coordinator, said each site will have access to computer labs so students are able to fill out the FAFSA form electronically, rather than by paper application. He said this allows for a quicker and easier process, because FAFSA on the Web uses skip logic based on particular information that has already been answered.

“The great thing about the electronic application,” said Cassis, “is that it will check applications for missing information, so students and their parents do not get rejected from financial help.”

Heather VanCura, junior social work major, said it is great that kids get their questions answered and the help they need to fill out the FAFSA.

“I wish I took part in the event when I was a senior, because it took me and my mom a while to fill out,” said VanCura. “I was confused at first.”

Cassis said participants also have a chance to win a scholarship, which is limited to one or two per event site. The scholarships are funded by fundraisers and the Connecticut Association of Professional Financial Aid Administrators (CAPFAA), according to Cassis. In addition to receiving help filling out FAFSA, Cassis said future college students and their parents also receive information regarding other national and state financial aid programs.

VanCura said it was scary to think about how much it costs to afford college. According to VanCura, she spent a lot of time with her guidance counselor and parents to find other financial aid that she was eligible to apply for.

“I think it’s convenient for students to receive other information all in one day with financial aid advisors,” said VanCura. “It’s hard to find the right program that will benefit you in the long run, so it’s a great opportunity.”

According to Cassis, if students do not fill out the paperwork correctly or are intimidated by the process, then they do not receive the full amount of aid they could be receiving each year of their college career.

Sixty-three percent of college students get an average of $7,400 each year to go to college, according to the CGS website. Cassis said the main goal of the program is to help low income families.

“We want to increase the number of first generation college students,” said Cassis, “and help aid them to be successful, so that the stress of affording college is not an issue.”

Cassis said there is no limit as to how many students and parents can participate at each site, because people will come at different times throughout the program. He said he recommends anyone who wants to participate to register online. When people show up, Cassis said those who have registered in advance will be greeted to a welcome and an explanation of the program, then escorted to the computer lab. Those who did not register will first register and receive a scheduled time. Cassis said there will be at least 10 advisors at each site.

“It will only take each student about 5 to 10 minutes to fill out the FAFSA,” said Cassis. “The advisors are rotating and give assistance when questions become more technical, and when there is a hand raised.”

According to the CGS website, parents are urged to go with their children, because household financial information will be needed to complete the FAFSA. Students should also check the list before going to the event, said Cassis, to find out what they need to bring. Some items include: Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID, W-2 forms, current bank statement and most recent federal income tax return.

“Parents and their children should be reassured that the information they bring to use and be reviewed is confidential,” said Cassis. “The financial aid advisors will only help use the information to fill out financial aid.”

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