College Goal Sunday helps with financial aid

AP file photoCollege Goal Sunday is a free program to assist Indiana students in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a key step in finding financial assistance for college. 

INDIANAPOLIS — Financial aid professionals will be volunteering at 37 sites in Indiana to help college-bound students and their families open the door to financial aid during College Goal Sunday.

The event is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Among locations are the Elkhart campus of Indiana University South Bend, 125 E Franklin St., and Goshen College at the Union Building, 1700 S. Main St. Spanish interpreters will be available at both sites. 

The free program assists Indiana students in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA form is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, scholarships and student loans at most colleges, universities and vocational/technical schools nationwide. The FAFSA must be filed by April 15 to be eligible for Indiana financial aid. College Goal Sunday is so important since completing this required form correctly and by the deadline is sometimes perceived to be complicated and time consuming. In less than one afternoon at a College Goal Sunday event, students and their families can get free help and file the form online.

Now in its 31st year, College Goal Sunday has helped more than 94,000 Indiana students and families complete the FAFSA properly and on time. College Goal Sunday is a charitable program of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association (ISFAA).

The event on Nov. 3 will be the first College Goal Sunday ISFAA is offering this FAFSA filing season, according to Bill Wozniak, co-chair of College Goal Sunday.

“We hope all Hoosiers who have not filed already take advantage of College Goal Sunday events across Indiana, file the FAFSA and get one step closer to fulfilling their educational goals.”

According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, programs like College Goal Sunday are reaching first-generation college students. In recent years, according to CHE statistics, more single-parent Hoosier families have filed for financial aid, indicating programs like College Goal Sunday are reaching high-risk students and their families.

“Students who don’t complete their financial aid paperwork properly and on time are often very disappointed when they find out how much financial aid they lost,” said Wozniak. “This is why the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association not only continues to provide College Goal Sunday, but offers two events during the year. If our assistance gives students a better chance at higher education and less debt, we’re fulfilling our mission.”

What students should bring

Students should attend College Goal Sunday with their parents or guardian, and parents’ should bring completed 2018 IRS 1040 tax returns, W-2 Forms and other 2018 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 2018 IRS 1040 tax return, W-2 Form or other 2018 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.

Students may also win one of five $1,000 scholarships. Students who attend any of the College Goal Sunday sites and submit a completed evaluation form will automatically be entered in a drawing for a $1,000 scholarship. The winners will be notified in December, and prizes will be sent directly to the higher education institution selected by the winning students.

21st Century Scholars are income-eligible students who sign a contract in the seventh or eighth grade promising they will graduate from high school, meet grade point requirements, fulfill a pledge of good citizenship, and apply for college financial aid. Upon high school graduation, 21st Century Scholars who have fulfilled the commitment receive state funds to help cover their college tuition and fees for eight semesters at eligible Indiana colleges. To fulfill their pledge, scholars must submit a completed FAFSA form on time. 

Program is a national model

College Goal Sunday originated in Indiana and is now a national model. Following Indiana’s example, College Goal Sunday events organized by more than 34 states have opened doors to higher education for hundreds of thousands of students all over the country.

More information about College Goal Sunday is available at CollegeGoalSunday.org.

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