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Don't let fear of FAFSA stop you

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Fear of FAFSA is a known, but easily treatable syndrome. Often it begins with math phobia or chronic avoidance of anything related to personal finances. Individuals who have never balanced a checkbook or filed their own taxes are particularly susceptible.

Don't despair. Help is available!

If you’re still procrastinating or if you've come up against the proverbial FAFSA “wall,” local associations of financial aid professionals are organizing a series of FREE FAFSA filing clinics scheduled to take place in virtually every corner of the country over the next two months.

In the DC metropolitan area, students and their families can attend Super FAFSA Week events, sponsored by the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA); College Access Fairfax workshops sponsored by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS); or College Goal Sunday, supported by independently-funded organizations in Maryland and Washington DC.

There are no residency requirements for any of these programs. Maryland or DC students are welcome to attend Virginia events, and Virginians are welcome to cross the river to attend events in Maryland. Just find a convenient date and location. But considering institutional “priority” FAFSA filing deadlines, you may want to target some of the earlier dates.

Super FAFSA Week, Virginia
This year, the VASFAA will host a series of Super FAFSA Week events across the Commonwealth from February 1 to 8, 2014. Each Super FAFSA Week location will offer financial aid workshops designed to explain the federal financial aid process, followed by questions and answers.

The host sites will have computers available for students/parents to begin or complete their FAFSA’s, with one-on-one assistance provided by volunteer financial aid experts. And to sweeten the deal, a $100 book scholarship will be awarded to one student at each of the 60 sites to be used at the winner’s college of choice during the 2014-15 academic year.

Participants should bring personal FAFSA PIN numbers (it's best to register in advance), Social Security numbers, driver’s license, income and tax records, bank and investment statements, and residency documents for noncitizens. More information is provided on the VASFAA website as well as on several location-specific web pages.

College Access Fairfax
College Access Fairfax, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Public Schools, scheduled 12 events in various locations around the county. All workshops are free and open to students and families from any high school, and most will provide on-site Spanish translation services.

College Goal Sundays, Maryland
Eighteen College Goal Sundays have been scheduled in locations across Maryland. At each site, FREE professional assistance will be available to help students and their families begin and hopefully complete the FAFSA filing process. In addition, there will be information on state-wide student services, admission requirements, and other financial aid resources. Although not required, participants are strongly encouraged to register in advance as computers, translators, and volunteers are limited.

To complete the FAFSA process on-site, you will need to have your Social Security number, driver’s license, income and tax records, investment and bank statements, and your alien registration card if you are not a US citizen. Details are provided on the College Goal website.

If you’re suffering from fear of FAFSA, you’re not alone. Get help. It’s FREE, professional, and confidential.

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