Colorado Schools Prepare Students for Financial Aid Season

February 1, 2012

In La Junta, Colorado, it’s been a cold season, and yet the schools in the area are realizing what time of year this is for many high school seniors. Local families around the area are gathering to attend a new workshop called “College Goal Sunday.” The workshop will show families how to pay for college, a topic that has been increasingly on the minds of parents as college students prepare to go off to school.

There’s a lot at stake for college students who don’t have the funds. While some are taking a break from college altogether to work, it’s not that simple for other students who need to continue. For high school students, it’s a question of actually getting in that’s keeping them from even applying.

”It doesn’t really matter if I get into any schools because I wasn’t smart enough to get a scholarship and I’m not sure if I’ll qualify for any federal aid,” said Paul DeMontier, a student from La Junta, Colorado.

Like DeMontier, many students are struggling with the same problem. The recent news of drastic budget cuts makes students afraid to even apply, because it doesn’t seem like there will be any financial aid left for them. However, that’s one important lesson to be taught at the newest workshop. In order to find out, you have to start somewhere.

College Goal Sunday plans on giving students the kind of preparation that can only come from experiences. Teachers and college students will be on hand to discuss with parents and high schoolers about financial aid options and when to apply. Right now, it’s early application season, which means that some applications have already been accepted for federal aid. College Goal Sunday is being held on Sunday, February 12th, because it’s right in the middle of this very stressful college planning season.

Families will also receive free guidance on ways to pay for college, specifically how to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is a crucial step in the college planning process. It also means that students will learn a bit about how the financial aid process works. The directors of the event will be on hand to answer questions and kind students with brochures and information about financial aid applications and how they are sent to colleges.

As many college students have learned, the FAFSA must be completed for a student to receive any financial aid, which includes grants, work study programs, student loans and even scholarships through colleges that require FAFSA. That’s why students are so strongly encouraged to submit a FAFSA as close to the first year as possible to receive as much financial aid. Colleges usually start to run out by the end of summer.

”In a time where college is no longer a luxury, but a necessity in the workplace, it is more vital than ever to provide families with the knowledge and resources to make higher education a reality,” said Dawn Taylor Owens, executive director of College in Colorado, the initiative of the Department of Higher Education. “For many families the greatest hurdle is how to pay for college. College Goal Sunday provides an incredible platform for families to receive free direction on ways to make college affordable.”

College Goal Sunday is taking place in 16 other locations across Colorado. Spanish translation is even being provided to help families. More than $20,000 in scholarships will also be given away to those who come to the event.

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