Feb 2, 2011

Cure Fear of FAFSA at FREE Financial Aid Clinics

Fear of FAFSA is a known, but treatable disease. Often it begins with math phobia or chronic avoidance of anything related to personal finances. Individuals who have never balanced a checkbook or filed their own taxes are particularly susceptible.

But help is available! If you’re still procrastinating or have come up against the proverbial FAFSA “wall,” local associations of financial aid professionals are organizing a series of FREE FAFSA filing clinics scheduled to take place in virtually every corner of the country over the next two months.

In the DC metropolitan area, students and their families can choose among Super Saturday events, sponsored by the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA), College Access Fairfax, or College Goal Sunday, sponsored by independently-funded organizations in Maryland and DC.

There are no residency requirements for any of these programs. Maryland or DC students are welcome to attend Virginia events, and Virginians are welcome to cross the river to attend events in Maryland or the District. Just find a convenient date and location. But considering institutional “priority” FAFSA filing deadlines, you may want to target some of the earlier dates.

Super Saturday, Virginia
This year, the VASFAA will host 20 Super Saturday events across the Commonwealth on Saturday, February 5, 2011. Each Super Saturday site will offer two financial aid workshops designed to explain the federal financial aid process, followed by a Q & A period.

The host sites will have computers available for students/parents to begin or complete their FAFSA’s, with one-on-one assistance provided by volunteer financial aid experts. And to sweeten the deal, a $100 Book Scholarship will be awarded to one student at each Super Saturday site to be used at the winner’s college of choice during the 2011-12 academic year.

Participants should bring personal FAFSA PIN numbers (it's best to register in advance), Social Security numbers, driver’s license, income and tax records, bank and investment statements, and residency documents for noncitizens. More information is provided on the VASFAA website as well as on several location-specific web pages.

College Access Fairfax
College Access Fairfax, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Public Schools, has scheduled 11 events in various locations around the county. All workshops are free and open to students and families from any high school, and most will provide on-site Spanish translation services.

College Goal Sundays, Maryland
In Maryland, nine College Goal Sundays have been scheduled in locations across the state. At each site, FREE professional assistance will be available to help students and their families begin and hopefully complete the FAFSA filing process. In addition, there will be information on state-wide student services, admission requirements, and other financial aid resources. Although not required, participants are strongly encouraged to register in advance as computers, translators, and volunteers are limited.

To complete the FAFSA process on-site, you will need to have your Social Security number, driver’s license, income and tax records, investment and bank statements, and your alien registration card if you are not a US citizen. Details are provided on the College Goal website.

DC College Goal Sunday
The DC College Goal Sunday program has scheduled three events taking place on three separate Sundays--February 6, 13, and 20th. In addition to identification information such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license, parents and students should bring their latest tax information and/or last pay stub to complete the form.

If you’re suffering from Fear of FAFSA, you’re not alone. Get help. It’s FREE, professional, and confidential.

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