Organization offers free FAFSA help this Sunday

0
563
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)Help filling out financial aid forms is available at Hancock County Public Library on Jan. 18. Submitted

INDIANAPOLIS — A philanthropic group will offer free professional help to Indiana high school students filing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, this Sunday.

College Goal Sunday, with individuals from the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, will provide free help filing the FAFSA from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at 39 locations throughout the state, including six locations in Indianapolis. The effort to help high school students file the sometimes-daunting financial paperwork is in its 30th year, said Bill Wozniak, co-chair of the event.

College Goal Sunday has helped more than 94,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time, according to a news release. Sunday’s event is the second College Goal Sunday offered this FAFSA filing season — another event was held at sites across the state in October.

What to bring

Students should attend College Goal Sunday with their parent(s) and/or guardian(s), and parents should bring completed 2017 IRS 1040 tax returns, W-2 Forms and other 2017 income and benefits information.

Students who worked last year should bring their income information as well. Students 24 years of age or older may attend alone and bring their own completed 2017 IRS 1040 tax return, W-2 Form or other 2017 income and benefits information.

Students and parents are encouraged to apply for their U.S. Department of Education FSA IDs at fsaid.ed.gov before coming to the event.

Volunteers will walk through the online form line by line and answer families’ individual questions as needed. All sites offer FAFSA online capabilities, and many have Spanish interpreters.

A complete list of sites is available at CollegeGoalSunday.org.

FAFSA’s reputation

The FAFSA has gotten a bad rap as time-consuming and frustrating over the years, Wozniak said. He said it’s come a long way from the pencil-and-paper application it started out as.

The IRS data retrieval tool saves applicants a lot of time — for eligible applicants, it pulls the pertinent financial information from the IRS right into the application, he said.

“That’s an innovation that’s been very well-received,” Wozniak said.

Financial aid professionals — more than 300 at each event — from Indiana colleges and universities volunteer their time to walk students and their parents through the process of filing the FAFSA before the deadline of April 15, Wozniak said.

He said the volunteers are happy to chat with those who attend College Goal Sunday, whether it’s about financial aid or the colleges and universities where they work.

“The people volunteering are friendly and nice,” he said. “Anybody even considering going to college, don’t be shy. If you need the help, we’re available.”

Last year, College Goal Sunday helped some 1,300 students and parents file a FAFSA, Wozniak said. Those who use College Goal Sunday to file a FAFSA are also entered into a raffle to win a $1,000 scholarship, Wozniak said; there are five scholarships given out each year.

College Goal Sunday is funded through Lilly Endowment, Inc., and InvestED Indiana.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Where to get help” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

College Goal Sunday will have free help filing the FAFSA at 39 sites from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. (No sites are in Hancock County)

Nearby sites are:

Arsenal Technical High School Computer Lab, 1500 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis

Beech Grove High School, 5330 Hornet Avenue, Beech Grove

Center for Leadership Development, 2425 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St., Indianapolis

Decatur Central High School, 5251 Kentucky Ave., Indianapolis

George Washington Community High School, Door No. 22, 2215 W. Washington St., Indianapolis

Ivy Tech Community College, North Meridian Center, 50 W. Fall Creek Parkway N. Dr., Indianapolis

Ivy Tech Community College-Anderson, 815 E. 60th St., Anderson

[sc:pullout-text-end]