If you’ve been avoiding completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), procrastinate no longer, help is here.
On Saturday, Feb. 20 from 9 a.m; to noon, a host of college financial aid officers and specialists will span across the state of North Carolina at 65 sites providing assistance with financial aid forms.
The “Free FAFSA Day” is sponsored by the College Foundation of North Carolina, the North Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and State Employees’ Credit Union.
Families must complete the FAFSA to be considered for any federal and most state financial aid for college, including scholarships and grants. The FAFSA is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides more than $150 billion in student aid each year.
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It is recommended that all families complete the FAFSA, even if you don’t think you’ll receive money because the FAFSA also qualifies students of all income levels for a variety of other financial aid that is not awarded based on need. It surprises most families to find out that some of the most generous private colleges and universities award need-based aid to some students from families with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.
Additionally, the FAFSA automatically qualifies students for low-interest and forgivable federal student loans; these are the most attractive loans available.
If you are reading this and your child is NOT a high school senior and you want to get a sense of what kind of aid you might receive, your best bet is to go to www.studentaid.ed.gov and type in “fafsa4caster” in the search box.
When you come to the free FAFSA day, come prepared. Here’s what you’ll need:
▪ Either file your 2015 federal taxes in advance, or bring: Both the student’s and parents’ federal 1040 tax forms for 2015 (or W-2 forms and other income and asset documents if completed tax forms are not available);
▪ The student’s and one parent’s FSA ID obtained in advance from (www.fsaid.ed.gov); and
▪ A FAFSA worksheet with as much information entered as possible, available at (www.fafsa.ed.gov)
▪ Organizers strongly recommend that you pre-register by going to www.cfnc.org/FAFSAday or by calling 866-866-CFNC for a list of event sites and register for the one nearest you.
Other help is available beyond the February 20 FAFSA Day.
FAFSA Week – (Feb. 22-26) also includes assistance with the FAFSA by appointment at the State Employee Credit Union branches.
Tuesday’s February FAFSA Phone-In – (Feb. 16 and 23, 5-8 p.m.) financial aid specialists will be available to help at the toll-free number, 866-866-CFNC (2362).
Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: email@example.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com