Today is College Goal Sunday

2011-02-13T00:00:00Z 2011-02-13T00:15:15Z Today is College Goal Sunday Arizona Daily Star
February 13, 2011 12:00 am

It's a day to get free help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a form that determines your eligibility for financial aid for college. Volunteers at three centers in Tucson are ready to help from 2 to 4 p.m.

"In Washington, D.C., somewhere, there is a building and in that building are piles and piles of money. One of those piles has your name on it, and all you have to do to get it is fill out this free form," said Mark Hanna, college readiness coordinator at Catalina Magnet High School.

The form is not as simple as it appears on the surface, and spending time figuring out the quirky formula that financial aid offices will use to interpret it can sometimes save families thousands of dollars on college.

"Schools will tell you to just fill it out, but parents are just gambling if they don't understand the logic behind every line," said Kalman Chany, financial aid consultant and author of "Paying for College Without Going Broke."

"They are risking money that would cover a Bentley."

You can get help at:

• Pima Community College-Desert Vista Campus, 5901 S. Calle Santa Cruz.

• Pima Community College-Northwest Campus, 7600 N. Shannon Road.

• University of Arizona Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building, 1130 N. Mountain Ave.

• Bring your parents if you're under 23, because you'll need their signatures, or be ready to ask your parents afterward. Also bring your tax information, bank statements, Social Security number and identification.

More local resources

• Regional College Access Center, 930 E. Broadway. What: A free, one-stop shop for getting individual help with financial aid and scholarships. Online: www.metedu.org/rcac

• Scholarship Universe What: A free online program for UA students that matches a student's personal and academic characteristics with scholarships he or she is most likely to qualify for. Online: scholarshipuniverse.arizona.edu

• Financial aid estimator What: A free tool to estimate federal student aid, including grants, loans and work-study. Online: financialaid.arizona.edu/money/estimate

• Scholarships A-Z What: Created by a Pima Community College employee to provide financial aid information to students, regardless of immigration status. Online: scholarshipsaz.org

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

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