Free Help Available for College Financial Aid
Volunteers to Help Families Fill Out FAFSA
Iowa students and families can receive free assistance completing the form required for federal financial aid through FAFSA Ready Iowa, a free program. FAFSA Ready Iowa events will be held October 2019, through March 30, 2020, in 43 Iowa locations.
“FAFSA Ready Iowa events provide the opportunity for students and families to receive professional guidance and assistance with the financial aid forms, helping to ensure a student has the best chance at the maximum amount of financial aid available to them,” said Brittania Morey, ICAN director of communications and FAFSA Ready Iowa state coordinator. “For many the financial aid process is a scary thing and getting free help from a professional financial aid expert helps them relax a bit and reduces the overall stress planning for college can have on a family.”
Volunteers for FAFSA Ready Iowa will help students and their families fill out and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of a national program that helps students qualify for federal financial aid. The FAFSA, which is available in free paper and electronic forms from the U.S. Department of Education, is the first step in the qualification process.
“Mason City High School is in our seventh year of hosting a community FAFSA assistance event with ICAN. We feel it is important to assist the families all over North Iowa with this important task. We’ve had families travel more than 40 miles to file the FAFSA at our event,” said Karla Wymore, school counselor at Mason City High School. “Even families who have completed the FAFSA before find comfort in having the professionals on-site assist them so they come back every year. It is a great way to get the FAFSA completed without interruptions and in a timely manner.”
FAFSA Ready Iowa, originally Iowa College Goal Sunday, has helped more than 9,000 Iowans complete FAFSAs since its inception in 2011. This year, FAFSA Ready Iowa will span nearly six months and hold more than 60 events across 32 cities.
“The Eastern Iowa Community Colleges of Clinton, Muscatine and Scott are always glad to participate in the FAFSA events. It is a wonderful feeling when you can walk a family through the FAFSA and they are thrilled to find out it wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be,” said Jane Haugland, district financial aid officer, Eastern Iowa Community College District. “Often times, this is the one step that gives them confidence to move forward with their goal of attending college. It is a great service that we provide to our Iowa students!”
Students or parents may attend individually, but it’s best if the student and at least one parent or guardian come together. Certain paperwork is required to fill out the forms. (See sidebar.)
Events will be held in Ankeny, Atlantic, Bettendorf, Calmar, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Centerville, Clarinda, Clinton, Coralville, Council Bluffs, Creston, Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Dubuque, Emmetsburg, Fort Dodge, Grinnell, Hiawatha, Keokuk, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine, Ottumwa, Peosta, Perry, Sheldon, Sioux City, Spirit Lake, Waterloo, Waukon, and West Burlington. For information on locations, dates and times, please visit www.icansucceed.org/fafsareadyia. Details are also available from ICAN at (877) 272-4692 or FAFSA@ICANsucceed.org.
To complete the FAFSA, families should bring, for both the student and parent, the following:
- Social Security number, driver’s license number and date of birth
- 2018 federal and state tax returns
- W-2 forms or other records of income earned last year
- Current bank statements and investment records
- Records of untaxed income received last year
- 2018 business and farm records
- Alien registration numbers if not a U.S. citizen
Students and parents may also register in advance for federal student aid ids (FSA ID), a username and password unique to each student and parent that can be used to electronically sign the forms and make future changes. To learn about the FSA ID, visit www.icansucceed.org/fsaid.
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ICAN is a nonprofit, educational organization. ICAN is the College Access Network for Iowa, and a member of the National College Access Network (NCAN). ICAN has ten locations in Ankeny, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Orange City, Sioux City and Waterloo, which provide programming and advising support to students and their families as they plan for education and training after high school. All ICAN programs and services are provided without charge. For more information about ICAN, call (877) 272-4692 or visit www.ICANsucceed.org.