Get FAFSA help Monday at VanKirk Academy

Jim CaufieldChief editor

If you plan to go to college this fall and want to get money to pay for it, then you should send in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) sometime in February or March, according to a group that helps people fill out the paperwork and who will hold a free FAFSA help workshop at the Perry VanKirk Academy on Monday, Feb. 10 from 3:30 to 6 p.m..

John Carroll, interim program director at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) satellite campus in Perry, said the event is called Iowa College Goal Sunday—although it will be held in Perry on a Monday—and is sponsored by the Iowa Colleges Access Network (ICAN). The VanKirk Academy is providing the meeting place, Carroll said.

People from ICAN will be on hand to answer questions about college financing in general and FAFSA in particular and will tell you exactly what information and documents you will need in order to fill out the FAFSA application, Carroll said.

He said you can even start to fill out your forms at the College Goal Sunday event and then finish them at home when you have collected all the necessary information. Students and families who come with the proper tax and income information could even complete the FAFSA application at the event.

The State of Iowa has set July 1 as the deadline for submitting a FAFSA form, but ICAN recommends sending in the FAFSA now so that you will still have plenty of time to meet the deadline if officials find your application needs more information. Carroll said it is very common for a person’s application to be sent back with a request for additional information about taxes or income, so it is best to start early and not risk missing the July deadline.

ICAN Director Rob Miller said ICAN started the College Goal Sunday program in order to help students and their parents with financial aid forms. The program has expanded to 54 locations in 38 towns and cities across Iowa and is now coming to Perry.

College Goal Sunday brings volunteers who not only help you fill out and file the FAFSA forms but also answer questions about the overall financial aid process, understanding FAFSA results, understanding costs, comparing colleges, exploring other financial aid options, navigating the scholarships process and where to go for help.

FAFSA is a free form available either in paper or online from the U.S. Department of Education. It is a standardized application used to determine eligibility for federal grants, loans and work-study funds from the US government.

Many colleges and states, including Iowa, also use FAFSA information when determining eligibility for institutional and state financial aid programs.

To see a list of what information is needed to file the FAFSA, visit www.ICANsucceed.org/file.