By JEROD CLAPP
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
As College Goal week begins Sunday, figuring out where to start is the big sticking point.
But filling out that Free Application for Federal Student Aid Form is pretty important. Actually, don’t even think about not turning it in, Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, said in an online interview.
“If you’re looking for college financial aid, you have to fill out the FAFSA, regardless of your income,” Stanczykiewicz said.
As kick-off events for the week begin, such as the one from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Indiana University Southeast in the Library Building, parents and students look for answers to questions regarding college funding, whether they’ve been saving or not.
He said most families assume they don’t qualify for financial aid from the government and don’t even try. But he said FAFSA is a great starting point, whether a family has put back money for their students or not.
He said there also are some common concerns parents have about filling them out, especially when it comes to the part about stating their earnings.
He said when filling that out, treat FAFSA like a federal income tax filing. It doesn’t matter just in terms of federal aid, but some scholarship organizations look at that information when picking out winners.
But when it comes to scholarships, he said many families and students start looking around as early as middle school. He said there’s little benefit to approaching funding that way, especially since scholarships and their requirements can change from year to year.
But he said when it comes to their senior year, that’s the best time for students to start looking around for scholarships.
He said visiting financial aid offices at campuses also can help. But like buying a car, he said their first offer may not be their best.
“The schools want your student there, they want your student to be successful,” Stanczykiewicz said. “The worst that’s going to happen is they’re going to tell you no, that’s their best offer.”
He said it’s not improper to go to the office and ask if what they’ve offered is all they can do. Sometimes, they may come back with opportunities for work study or other programs.