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College financial aid offices open Saturday to help students and parents

RALEIGH —  Financial aid offices across the state will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday to offer free assistance on college financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for both students and parents.

The statewide initiative is a partnership with College Foundation of North CarolinaNorth Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and State Employees’ Credit Union.

Completing the financial aid application is the first step in paying for college because it determines eligibility for both federal and state financial aid. Students gain access to a share of more than $120 billion in grants, loans and work-study funds.

The application process opened Oct. 1. Early completion is important so that students may receive financial aid information sooner to meet deadlines set by colleges and universities. Students do not have to know where they are going to college before they submit the application because they can list as many as 10 potential schools on the form.

In North Carolina, completing the application determines a student’s eligibility for four state grants. The North Carolina grant system includes money for four-year public, four-year private and community colleges. The grant money comes from taxpayers and goes to North Carolina residents and does not need to be paid back.

“All students should complete the FAFSA even if they are not sure if they want to go to college after high school graduation. Often, seeing how much aid students can receive can influence their decision about education beyond high school,” says Marcia Weston, associate director of outreach of the State Education Assistance Authority. “FAFSA Day is a great opportunity for both the student and parent to receive free help to complete this important step.”

To find a location of a free FAFSA Day program near you, visit CFNC.org/FAFSADay. Registration is encouraged but not required. Families are reminded that they should never have to pay for assistance with the application.

Students and parents can prepare for FAFSA Day by doing the following:

• Each student and one parent will need a Federal Student Aid Identification before completing the application. FSA IDs can be obtained at FSAID.ed.gov and are used to sign the application.

• Students and parents should bring 2017 tax information. Many participants can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to obtain the necessary tax information but a 1040 tax form or W-2 can be helpful.

After completing the application, students and parents are encouraged to use the Residency Determination Service to determine eligibility for in-state tuition and state grants. The service requires much of the same information as the aid application and is an important component of the financial aid application process.

College Foundation is North Carolina’s leading resource for students as they plan, apply and pay for college. For more information, visit CFNC.org.

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