FAFSA: Those five letters strike fear in the hearts of parents of college students.
The acronym stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. That snapshot of a family’s financial situation is the basis for student aid awards at colleges and universities. The schools require a completed FAFSA before they decide how much aid they will give your child (aside from merit awards).
It’s a hassle and it can be very confusing. But a local partnership offers an incredible deal Saturday: From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., certified public accountants have volunteered their time to help families fill out their FAFSA forms. They will be at the Learning and Opportunity Center/Rock Valley College, 308 W. State St. in Stewart Square, Rockford.
Seniors who are Rockford public school students who attend and complete the FAFSA are eligible for a $500 college scholarship. Two scholarships will be awarded in a random drawing.
Students who are unable to attend (but who fill out a FAFSA) have a chance to win a $500 scholarship by filling out a registration form, which can be found in the counselors’ offices of all Rockford public high schools.
Scholarships are provided by Rockford Promise and AMBUCS. The program is sponsored by Rockford Promise, Rock Valley College, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, Northern Illinois Chapter of the Illinois CPA Society and the Rockford School District.
Details can be found at rockfordpromise.org (including what to bring to fill out the FAFSA).
College costs have tripled in the last decade, with annual tuition increases at most schools outpacing inflation.
So it’s no surprise more than half of all students in Illinois graduate with debt (which averaged $20,102 per student in 2008). The figures are according to the Project on Student Debt, an independent nonprofit organization.
Into this bleak picture enters helping hands, in the form of charitable CPAs and an enlightened community partnership. Take advantage of their help.