COLUMBUS – Ohioans dreaming of higher education may experience sticker shock when they consider the price, but financial assistance is available. This weekend is Ohio College Goal Sunday, when current and prospective students can get help filling out the Free Application for Federal for Student Aid, or FAFSA.
State coordinator for the event Carrie Short explains the form is required to apply for all federal student-aid programs, many state programs, and some others.
“So, it is definitely the first place to go when you need any kind of assistance with college,” says Short. “Some people think, ‘Why should I fill it out if I’m not going to be getting any grants; it’s only going to give me loans?’ You never know until you fill it out. Private institutions may use it to base some of their institutional grants upon.”
On College Goal Sunday, financial aid experts on school campuses and other locations can walk students and families through the FAFSA application process. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for in-state residents at public colleges is about $9,400 a year, and tops $32,000 at private colleges.
While the mission of College Goal Sunday is to help any student, Short says there’s a special focus on first-generation college applicants whose families may be unaware of the aid opportunities.
“It’s really important that we let them know that the money is there for the taking,” says Short. “That it’s so important that they fill out this FAFSA, so that they can get to college and that they can know their educational goals are attainable, and that there can be a bright future for them.”
About $150 billion a year in grants, work-study dollars, and low-interest loans are awarded each year to college students through the U.S. Department of Education.
Ohio groups also offer a variety of grants and scholarships based on areas of study, academic merit, financial need and other factors. Students can learn more and preregister for assistance at OhioCollegeGoalSunday.org.