Iowa students and families can get free assistance with forms required for federal financial aid at Iowa College Goal Sunday, held throughout the months of February and March, in 38 Iowa locations.
"Iowa College Goal Sunday events provide the opportunity for students and families to receive professional guidance and assistance with the financial aid forms, helping to ensure a student has the best chance at the maximum amount of financial aid available to them," said Jennifer Coffman, state coordinator of Iowa College Goal Sunday. "For many the financial aid process is a scary thing and getting free help from a professional financial aid expert helps them relax a bit and reduces the overall stress planning for college can have on a family."
Volunteers for Iowa College Goal SundaySM will help students and their families fill out and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of a national program that helps students qualify for federal financial aid. The FAFSA, which is available in free paper and electronic forms from the U.S. Department of Education, is the first step in the qualification process.
"Wartburg College is in its third year hosting a College Goal Sunday site. It feels great to help families in our local area complete their FAFSAs no matter where the student is planning to attend college," said Jen Sassman, director of financial aid at Wartburg College. "Each year we have more families stop by; I am hoping for record numbers in 2014!"
This year, Iowa College Goal Sunday will span two months and will be held in 38 Iowa locations beginning Feb. 6 and running through March 31.
"This year we’ve expanded not only our locations, but also our timeframe in an effort to provide help to all families at the time that fits their schedule." said Coffman. "Moving from a single week of events to 58 events over a two-month period provides flexibility to both the families we help and our partnering organizations hosting these events."
"The University of Dubuque is proud to be a part of the CGS event each year. The families of our community are so appreciative to receive the free assistance. It is a great feeling bringing our area colleagues together to serve the families, ease their minds, and get them through what is often seen as a burdensome process," said Amy Gaffney, associate director of student financial planning for the University of Dubuque. "I think it helps them understand the many resources available to help their students achieve their college goals."
Students or parents may attend individually, but it’s best if the student and at least one parent or guardian come together. Certain paperwork is required to fill out the forms. (See sidebar.)
Events will be held in Ames, Calmar, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Centerville, Clarinda, Clinton, Council Bluffs, Creston, Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Dubuque, Emmetsburg, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Keokuk, Lamoni, Marshalltown, Mason City, Monticello, Muscatine, Ottumwa, Perry, Sheldon, Sioux City, Storm Lake, Waterloo, Waverly and West Burlington. For information on locations, dates and times, please visit www.IowaCGS.org. Details are also available from the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) at (877) 272-4692 or CGS@ICANsucceed.org.
Iowa College Goal Sunday is part of the national College Goal SundaySM program, currently managed by USA Funds and held in 40 states and the District of Columbia. A number of Iowa organizations have partnered to plan and present Iowa College Goal Sunday.
To complete the FAFSA, families should bring, for both the student and parent, the following:
• Social Security number, driver’s license number and date of birth
• Most recent federal and state tax returns
• W-2 forms or other records of income earned last year
• Current bank statements and investment records
• Records of untaxed income received last year
• 2013 business and farm records
• Alien registration numbers if not a U.S. citizen
Students and parents may also register in advance for federal personal identification numbers (PINs) to electronically sign the forms and make future changes. To request a PIN, visit www.pin.ed.gov.