College Goal Sunday helps local students navigate complications of financial aid

    College Goal Sunday helps college-bound students apply for FAFSA.

    Posted on Feb. 23, 2014 at 6:10 p.m.

    ELKHART — David Crum knows paying for his college will take some hard work and creativity.

    To help navigate the financial aid application and start planning for how the Edwardsburg senior will pay for his education, Crum and his mother, Rhonda, attended College Goal Sunday at Elkhart Central High School on Sunday, Feb. 23.

    College Goal Sunday is set up to help local parents and their children complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and take some of the complication out of the process.

    David Crum, 18, plans to study agriculture mechanics, hopefully at the University of Northwestern Ohio, but knows he will have to work to help pay for his education.

    "We know there's going to have to be working on campus and parental payment and hopefully financial aid," Rhonda Crum said. "Grants, scholarships, we're doing some research on that."

    The Crums found College Goal Sunday helpful in that it made the process of applying for financial aid "user friendly" and "easy."

    Paying for his continued education doesn't particularly concern David or Rhonda Crum, but both said they're planning to work hard to avoid incurring too much debt.

    "We're hoping not to do a lot of loans," Rhonda Crum said. "We'd like to pay as much out right as we can.

    "We just know we have to work to help him pay for it anyway."

    Cheryl Klingler said she's taking a slightly different approach with her daughter, Concord senior Jessica Klingler.

    Jessica will be paying for school herself as she works toward her degree in special education either at Ivy Tech or Indiana University at South Bend.

    "It's all her," Cheryl Klingler said. "I think kids take it more seriously when they pay for it."

    "I had to pay for my own," she added.

    The Klinglers said they are concerned about the amount of debt Jessica could build up through schooling.

    "If you get a teaching degree, you're only going to be getting so much money and you're going to have so much debt for education, which is our concern," Cheryl Klingler said.

    To try to keep costs low and incur as little debt as possible, Jessica Klingler said she's currently taking a personal finance class and plans to live at home once she starts college next year.

    "That's the whole key," Cheryl Klingler said. "We hope she'll save money that way."

    Preparing their children for college is a first for both Klinglers and Crums, so they came to Sunday's event hoping to gain some clarity on the process.

    "First kid, I have no clue," Cheryl Klingler said with a laugh. "I think it's motivating somebody to really take it a little bit more seriously."

    The families' situations are common to many of the others who came to College Goal Sunday, said Kelli Kalisik, assistant director of financial aid at Notre Dame.

    "I think for a lot of them, it's pretty new so they have a lot of questions," Kalisik said. "It's usually the first student going to college so it's the first time they've gone through the process."

    Applying for financial aid is just one of many steps in preparing a child for college, but the organizers of College Goal Sunday hope they alleviated some of the confusion and worry over that one step.

    "It's a little bit more complicated and confusing maybe than the average person might just be able to go in and complete," Kalisik said of the FAFSA. "Having someone to ask questions and help you through the process for those first time families is really helpful."

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