FAFSA help offered to students

Marcellino Signorelli

College Goal Sunday at the Marquette YMCA will provide students and parents the information necessary to get the most out of financial aid.

The session will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12 and will give those who attend information about how to properly fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The FAFSA can be challenging for many first-time applicants since it asks for a lot of financial information, said Lori Smolinski, director of child development at the YMCA.

“We’re going to walk them through the FAFSA,” Smolinski said. “We’ll be doing the FAFSA with them and by the end of the event most students will either have completed their FAFSA or have it mostly completed with only minor revisions needing to be done.”

Mike Rotundo, director of financial aid, also stated the importance of completing the FAFSA as soon as possible.
While the deadline for federal financial aid for the 2012-2013 school year is not until June 2012, state deadlines are much sooner than that.

“Financial aid is awarded on a rolling basis, but quite a few of the programs such as Perkins’ Loans and work study have limited funds,” Rotundo said. “The deadline for Michigan financial aid is March 1, however March 1 is a priority date for federal financial aid.

“That means it’s not a deadline for federal aid, but it’s best to have the FAFSA completed by that time so if any problems should come up, students can take care of them before they leave after the end of the semester.”

The only hurdle to completing the FAFSA is if taxes have not yet been filed. However, it is still possible to complete a FAFSA without the current tax return information.

“If the tax returns have not been completed then the previous year’s tax return and current W-2 statement will work until the current tax returns are completed,” Rotundo said. “A helpful tool when filling out the FAFSA is an IRS data retrieval tool, which can be used if the families tax returns have been completed.

“It will link to the IRS website and all the relevant info can be dragged right into the FAFSA.”

College Goal Sunday is a nationwide program managed by the YMCA of the U.S. and offers its assistance for free.
While the session is especially geared towards aiding high school seniors who are filling out the FAFSA for the first time, anyone is welcome to come to the session.

“It is just as important for adults to complete it as well as the students because most often the students are dependents of their parents,” Smolinski said. “There is much to be learned, even for college students who have filled out a FAFSA in previous years.”

For more information about the event, as well as a checklist for both students and parents, about what to bring to the session, go to micollegegoal.org.