Financial aid professionals will volunteer at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast and 39 other sites in Indiana to help college-bound students with financial aid during College Goal Sunday. This year introduces a new process, and students could begin submitting their forms Oct. 1 using last year’s taxes. The event is set for 2 p.m. Nov. 13 and will be hosted in classrooms throughout Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.)
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 March 10 to be eligible for Indiana financial aid. The event is important because completing this required form correctly and by the deadline is sometimes perceived to be complicated and time consuming, according to College Goal Sunday. In less than one afternoon, students and their families can get free help and file the form online.
Now in its 28th year, College Goal Sunday has helped more than 90,000 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).
College Goal Sunday Doubles the Help Offered
“With the FAFSA start date moving forward from January to October, College Goal Sunday made the decision to add a November event in addition to the traditional February event,” said Bill Wozniak, co-chair of College Goal Sunday. “Now there will be two College Goal Sunday events across Indiana to help families file the FAFSA, and bring students one step closer to fulfilling their educational goals.”
According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, programs like College Goal Sunday are important for reaching first-generation college students. In recent years, according to the Commission, 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,” Wozniak said. “This is why the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association not only continues to provide College Goal Sunday, but added a second event this 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 parent(s) or guardian(s), and parents’ should bring completed 2015 IRS 1040 tax returns, W-2 Forms, and other 2015 income and benefits information. Students who worked last year should bring their income information as well. Students 24 years or older may attend alone and bring their own completed 2015 IRS 1040 tax return, W-2 Form, or other 2015 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.
Attendees may win educational prizes
Students may also win one of ten $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 benefit
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, 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. College Goal Sunday can help.
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.