Financial aid workshops offers help to students and parents

http://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/education/financial-aid-workshops-offers-help-to-students-and-parents/article_a3d82e72-e5a1-11e6-899c-9f407c9df8e7.html

 

HALFWAY — Clear Spring High School senior David McKee said he hopes one day to become an aeronautic engineer, designing and building his own aircraft.

The 17-year-old, who already constructs and flies his own drones, said to see that dream through, he will need financial aid to put him through college.

So his parents, Trent and Melody McKee, turned to the volunteers at Saturday’s financial aid workshop at Valley Mall, to help them understand the sometimes confusing Free Application for Federal Student Aid — FAFSA — process.

“It went very smoothly,” Trent said. “We submitted it online, but we were lost, so they helped us here. They were a tremendous help. It just made it a lot smoother.”

The free application for federal aid can lead to a wealth of financial help for students entering college. But understanding the application process can be confusing, leaving many families at risk of losing out on the needed money.

That is where the annual “FAFSA Frenzy” workshop, sponsored in part by Washington County Public Schools Education Foundation, WCPS and Washington County OnTrack, can be of help.

Saturday was the first of three workshops at the mall. A second workshop will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and a third is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 4.

Between 30 and 40 volunteers will be on hand to help with the application process.

“We will also be helping and sending volunteers into the classroom in the high schools the following week to help at the FAFSA events as well,” said Christina Williams, manager of the Washington County Public Schools.

For the workshops, students and parents should bring Social Security cards, W-2s and account balances, 2015 tax returns, driver’s licenses and lists of colleges and programs.

Brittany McCauley, 19, a student at Hagerstown Community College, has filled out the FAFSA before. With one more year at HCC, she is applying again.

“It was an easy process,” said Brittany, who is majoring in early childhood education. “The (volunteers) helped me a lot.”

Williams said the workshop help is important for parents and students, since the application is also used for Maryland state grants and scholarships, as well as some internal school scholarship applications.

“So anyone thinking about going to post secondary education that is a high school senior, they should really take advantage of completing the FAFSA as early as possible, so they could qualify for federal, state aid and scholarships,” she said.

For more information, go to FAFSA Frenzy Washington County Facebook page, or email FAFSAFrenzy@gmail.com.