Students, Families Receive Free Help Filing College Financial Aid Form
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (Feb. 23, 2009) - A dozen students planning to attend college this fall received free assistance filling out and filing their federal financial aid forms Saturday at the Waterloo Iowa College Goal Sunday event.
"This is the first year for this event in Iowa, and we're very pleased with Saturday's turnout," said Juan Garcia, the 2009 Iowa College Goal Sunday state coordinator and manager of the Iowa College Access Network(r) (ICAN). "We want to help as many families apply for financial aid as possible, especially in today's economy."
The inaugural Iowa College Goal Sunday program kicked off at two locations in the Des Moines area last week. On Saturday, events were held in Waterloo and Ottumwa. The program is part of a nationwide campaign in which volunteers provide free, on-site assistance in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA uses income, business, investment and bank records to determine eligibility for aid. While critical to the financial aid process, many students and families find the form confusing.
"It seems so complicated with all the numbers," said Christine Her, a Drake University freshman who attended last week's Iowa College Goal Sunday event. "I went the easy route. It's good that there's a group of people willing to help high school and college students fill out the FAFSA, and they do it for free."
FAFSA asssistance will be available at two additional locations next week. On Saturday, Feb. 28, Iowa College Goal Sunday will be held at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City. All events run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are free. More information is available online at www.IowaCGS.org.
Garcia advises students to file the FAFSA even if they don't think they'll qualify for aid. "Besides the federal government, states and schools look at the FAFSA to determine if they can help students with grants and scholarships," he said.
Chris Anderson of Pleasantville, who has a son attending a California community college and a daughter entering college this fall, agreed. "You never know. My kids probably won't receive financial aid, but I think it's important to fill it out every year." Anderson received help with her children's FAFSA forms at the Des Moines Iowa College Goal Sunday event.
Iowa College Goal Sunday is part of the national College Goal Sunday program funded by grants from Lumina Foundation for Edcuation. Several Iowa organizations have partnered to plan and implement the event, including the Des Moines Schools GEAR UP program, Iowa Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Iowa College Access Network, Iowa College Student Aid Commission, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Dollars for Scholars, Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates, Iowa TRIO programs and Scholarship America. College Goal Sunday events are often held on Saturdays, despite the program's name, to better fit family schedules.