Preparing Financial Aid Early

December 24, 2011

In high school, the easiest part is just showing up. Homework, school events, tests and graduation ceremonies are the final part of a long period as a young adult in training. However, there is another part of high school that causes a lot of stress for teenagers: college. For many high school students, getting a diploma is the first step to getting into a prestigious collegiate institution. There are also a lot of worries with going to college, such as financial aid. In Brandon, schools are trying to help out seniors with classes on financial aid and applying to colleges. This helps families and students who often don't know how they are going to be able to pay for financial aid.

The Guidance Services Department for Hillsborough County Public Schools will host eight financial aid information nights to address high school students' and families' concerns about getting into college. The sessions will be conducted over the next two month period in preparation for students graduating to get ahead of the game and fill out their necessary forms for financial aid early. The sessions will mostly address how to access and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid known as FAFSA. The sessions will also go over how colleges and universities create financial aid packages and discuss options for financial aid.

For lower income families, FAFSA is the first step in receiving federal aid such as the Pell Grant. However, there are also other types of aid to consider, such as scholarships and fellowships, even work study programs. Financial aid representatives from colleges nearby, like University of South Florida, will be at the sessions to discuss all of the different avenues available to students and help them figure out a plan beforehand to pay for classes and books.

The first session is schedule in January at Brandon High School. Other sessions will take place throughout January around different area schools. Once students complete the sessions, they will already have filled out a FAFSA and talked to potential college advisors about their financial aid plans to get a better understanding of what they need to pay for school. Many students will walk away with an idea of their tuition costs and aid help, thus allowing them to come up with a way to cover the difference. Students' parents will also take part in helping to fill out the FAFSA for their children and provide necessary information, such as tax info and income documents.

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