02/10/12 Financial aid professionals will be volunteering at Plymouth High School and 39 other Indiana sites to help college-bound students and their families open the door to financial aid during College Goal Sunday, set for 2 p.m. (local time), February 12, 2012.
The free program is designed to assist Indiana students seeking undergraduate admission to a college or technical school in 2012 in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, loans and scholarships at most colleges, universities and vocational/technical schools nationwide and must be filed by March 10 to be eligible for state aid. Completing this required form correctly and by the deadline is sometimes perceived to be complicated and time consuming. In one afternoon at College Goal Sunday, students and their families can get free help and file the form online.
Now in its 23rd year, College Goal Sunday, a charitable program of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association (ISFAA), has helped more than 87,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time, opening the door to financial aid for college.
What students should bring
To make filing the FAFSA easier, volunteers walk through the form line-by-line and answer families’ individual questions. All sites offer FAFSA online capabilities and many have Spanish interpreters. A complete list of sites is available at www.CollegeGoalSunday.org.
Students should attend College Goal Sunday with their parent(s) or guardian(s) and bring their parents’ completed 2011 IRS 1040 tax returns, W-2 Forms and other 2011 income and benefits information. Students who worked last year, should bring their income information. Students 24 years of age or older may attend alone and bring their own completed 2011 IRS 1040 tax return, W-2 Form or other 2011 income and benefits information. Students and parents may apply for their U.S. Department of Education Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) at www.pin.ed.gov before coming to the event.
Program assists all students
“Nearly half of Indiana’s college students qualify for financial aid from the State of Indiana,” said Donette Cassman, Sallie Mae, Inc., chairman of College Goal Sunday. “College Goal Sunday helps students and families better understand the financial aid process and brings students one step closer to fulfilling their educational goals.”
According to the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI), programs like College Goal Sunday are reaching first-generation college students. In addition, according to SSACI statistics, in recent years, more single-parent Hoosier families have filed for financial aid, indicating programs like College Goal Sunday are reaching high-risk students and their families.
“Financial aid professionals have seen firsthand the disappointment of students who don’t complete their financial aid paperwork properly,” said Cassman. “That’s why the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association continues to provide College Goal Sunday. If our assistance gives students a better chance at higher education, we’re fulfilling our mission.”
Attendees may win educational prizes
Students who attend any of the College Goal Sunday sites and submit a completed evaluation form will automatically be entered in a drawing for an educational prize. Winners will be notified in March; prizes will be sent directly to the higher education institutions selected by the winning students.
Twenty-first Century Scholars benefit
Twenty-first Century Scholars are income-eligible students who sign a contract in the seventh or eighth grade promising they will graduate from high school with a minimum of 2.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and apply for college financial aid. Upon high school graduation, Scholars who have fulfilled the commitment receive state funds to help cover their college tuition and fees for eight semesters at eligible Indiana colleges. To fulfill their pledge, scholars must submit a completed FAFSA form on time. College Goal Sunday can help.
Program is a national model
College Goal Sunday has more than tripled its reach, from 10 sites statewide in its first year to 40 sites currently, and it has become a national model to other College Goal Sunday programs. In addition to Indiana, College Goal Sunday now takes place in more than 35 other states.
Helpline open during Financial Aid Awareness Month
ISFAA’s College Goal Sunday is one of the highlights of Financial Aid Awareness Month. In February, students and their families can call the Learn More Resource Center helpline at 800-992-2076 and have their questions answered by financial aid professionals. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education supports the Helpline.