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Posted on Mon. Feb. 25, 2013 - 12:45 am EDT

Web untangles financial aid forms

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For Natasha Lowery, watching her daughter apply for colleges has been nothing short of “eye-opening.”

Everything is now online, and a whole world of information is at her fingertips, unlike when Lowery attended Indiana University several years ago.

Need to know what a campus might look like? There’s a website. Need to know what a town is like? Go to the web. What do the schools offer as far as classes, and how much is tuition? Hop online.

Need financial aid? Do the same thing.

“Back then, everything was in paper form,” said Lowery, who spent a little bit of time sitting next to her daughter, Jayde Fincher, at IPFW on Sunday.

“Now, everything’s electronic.”

For some, finding financial aid for college might seem like a daunting challenge, but the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection.

More importantly, there are plenty of people who are available to help those needing it when it comes to filling it out.

“I think the biggest thing is that it’s somewhat new, so some people are afraid to mess it up,” said Jennifer Manns, the assistant director for financial aid at IPFW, who helped run a workshop Sunday for people looking for help in filling out the form.

A steady stream of parents showed up to the workshop with their children in tow, much like Lowery and her daughter, where a group of financial aid professionals were there to help them with their FAFSA forms.

The FAFSA form allows college students to apply for both federal and state aid for college.

Some who attended were looking at how to get started, while others were just there to make sure their forms were done correctly.

“It’s always nice to get some guidance,” said Debbie Scheumann, whose son Connor plans to attend either Texas A&M or Purdue University.

Those who did not come to IPFW on Sunday should not fret, Manns said.

There is always plenty of help available by simply calling a prospective school’s financial aid office or other organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Education, which runs the federal student aid website at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Along with finding the FAFSA form on that site, there is also a help number and tutorials for those needing a little more guidance.

“Nearly half of Indiana’s college students qualify for financial aid from the state of Indiana,” said Donette Cassman, of Sallie Mae Inc., in a recent statement issued by IPFW.

Hoosiers seeking aid from the state need to file soon, though, according to Manns.

The deadline for prospective students to get their FAFSA form in and still be eligible for aid from the state is March 10.

“We encourage them to file early,” Manns said.

jeffwiehe@jg.net


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