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FAFSA time is approaching; College Goal Oregon can help

By Thomas Laskey

To get the most out of your FAFSA, get it in early.

The fall term is coming to a close, which for continuing and first-time students means that it’s time to start thinking about your FAFSA – or Federal Student Aid application.

Just in time to help is College Goal Oregon. The event is being held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 10 in Bldg. 6.

Kate Hoerauf is a coordinator in Chemeketa’s Financial Aid Office and a co-coordinator of this year’s College Goal Oregon event. She is working with James McNicholas of the college’s office of Marketing and Recruiting to present the event.

“The goal is to get as many students, both current and new students, to complete their FAFSAs early in January. Early is best. Early gets you the largest array of financial aid,” Hoerauf said.

Attesting to the importance of submitting the FAFSA quickly, Chemeketa student Nathan Pisano said, “I usually put it off until the last minute, which does me in because I never get on a work study, even though I apply for it.

“Attending an event like College Goal Oregon could be very helpful, especially for the students who are filling out the FAFSA for the first time, because it can be a really tedious process.”

There’s no need to sign up.

Hoerauf said, “It’s a drop-in event. You come in between 9 and 2, and there’s one-on-one personal help to do your FAFSA and do scholarship research if you’re interested in that.

“Anybody who wants to fill out a FAFSA can come. They could be a current Chemeketa student, or a high school student, or even a community member who’s never set foot on campus before.”

There are a few things you’ll need to bring with you to the event:

  • Your 2013 federal tax return;
  • Your Social Security number;
  • Records on untaxed income, such as child support or veteran’s non-education benefits, if you have any;
  • Information on savings and checking account balances and investments, if you have any; and
  • Bring your parents, if possible, and any of the above information that applies to them.

Susan Varnum, who also works in the college’s Financial Aid Office, said there is an advantage to coming to the event rather than filling out the FAFSA application on your own.

“Students will get assistance to do their FAFSA correctly with Financial Aid staff members. Many students do fill out their FAFSA with no problems, but some students find that they need to go back and make corrections later on,” Varnum said.

“This helps to make sure they get it done now, and get it done correctly.”

For students who rely on financial aid, some money runs out quickly, but applying early provides a better chance of receiving a wider variety of aid, Hoerauf said.

“I think that finances are often a barrier to whether students complete school or not. If you can apply for aid early, get the help to do it, and you’re eligible for enough funds to help you during the year. That’s important,” she said.

“Apply early, and keep in touch with your school because there are other things to do between the FAFSA and the first day of class next year.”

Hoerauf was quick to add one additional comment:

“Completing the FAFSA is really no different than school work, stay on top of it and you’ll be successful.”

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