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Help offered to college bound students

Workshop offers families guidance on federal student aid forms

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Feb. 10, Kenai Peninsula College will hold a workshop for families needing help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the 2008-09 school year. The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center.

The FAFSA is required for all students who wish to receive financial aid, including grants and low-interest loans.

"I think it's important because it opens the door to all types of federal aid as well as state aid and scholarships," said Carrie Burford, financial aid coordinator for KPC.

The FAFSA workshop is part of Alaska College Goal Sunday, a statewide effort to increase the number of students who fill out the application. According to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, only 5.8 percent of Alaska ninth-graders receive a college degree within 10 years, making Alaska last in the nation for higher education.

Alaska College Goal Sunday was created four years ago to change that statistic and has been held at KPC for the last three years. Burford said that she has seen an increase in students filing for aid since the program began.

According to Burford, the FAFSA can be a challenging and oftentimes intimidating document to fill out.

"We try to remove the intimidation factor by having experts on site," she said.

The deadline for filing the FAFSA for the 2008-09 academic year is June 30, 2009. Since the deadline is after the school year has been completed, students who wait to fill out the FAFSA can be eligible to receive a reimbursement, but families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

"We try to encourage students to fill it out early so that if they get into a financial bind in the middle of the year, it is easier for us to help them," Burford said. "If students wait until the last minute to apply, they may not get all the benefits that they were expecting."

Families attending the event will be walked through the process of filling out the document step by step.

Anyone who has a laptop with wireless Internet is invited to bring it to the session and fill out the application on site.

Others will be able to take their paper worksheet home and transfer the information directly onto the Web site. Computers at the KPC computer lab, learning center and library also will be available for families without an Internet connection.

"We are asking families to bring their 2007 tax documents, (and) their FAFSA pin numbers one for the parent and one for the dependent student," Burford said.

"Families will save and re-use that pin number throughout the college program."

Families can apply for pin numbers online at www.fafsa.ed.gov and have the pin numbers sent to them via e-mail or through the post office. Numbers sent through the post office can take up to two weeks to be delivered, so it is recommended that families apply early.

As well as participating in Alaska College Goal Sunday, KPC will be conducting a February FAFSA Frenzy for current students.

The process for these students is slightly easier because they only need to fill out renewal FAFSAs. They also need to bring their tax documents and pin numbers. The financial aid office will be posting flyers with exact dates and times of the workshops as well as advertising them in the campus newsletter.

The event also is being held at the same time at Kachemak Bay Campus East in Homer.

More information visit www.alaskacollegegoalsunday.org.

Hannahlee Allers can be reached at hannahlee.allers@peninsulaclarion.com



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