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Free Financial Aid Help Coming Feb. 24 For College-Bound Students

College Goal Sunday taking place 2-4 p.m. in Garden City and other locations across Kansas

College Goal Sunday 2013, scheduled 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 24 at Garden City High School, will offer Southwest Kansas students and families an opportunity to get help in applying for financial assistance to attend college or vocational-technical school.

The come and go event is open to high school students and their parents, plus anyone else interested in receiving advice and assistance in completing federal application paperwork, as well as other aspects of attaining funds for college.

“The program is designed for college-bound students and families, but anyone including non-traditional age college students are welcome to come,” said Kathy Blau, Garden City Community College financial aid director and site coordinator.

Blau said approximately 27 volunteers will assist at the Garden City site in explaining federal grants, loans and other types of college financial aid, and in helping families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the basis for nearly all university and college financial assistance.

Financial aid counselors will also be available to help students apply for their required federal personal identification numbers.

Volunteers will come from GCCC and local high schools, and some will be able to speak Spanish as well as English. GCHS counselors plan make Internet-linked laptop computers available, so students can obtain their federal PINs and submit their FAFSAs on-site. Organizers are encouraging GCHS students to bring their school issued iPads.

The day is not designed to direct students to any particular college or university, so the volunteers will be able to help students no matter where they’re planning to enroll.

Scholarship Drawing

Garden City is one of about 22 College Goal Sunday locations in 21 communities across Kansas in 2013. Others include Arkansas City, Atchison, Concordia, Dodge City, El Dorado, Emporia, Great Bend, Hays, Hutchinson, Iola, Kansas City, Lawrence, Liberal, Manhattan, Olathe, Overland Park, Pittsburg, Salina, Topeka and Wichita.

Participants who attend will get the chance to win a $500 scholarship at each location, good at any accredited postsecondary college, university or technical school.

Those who attend should bring their 2012 federal income tax returns and W-2 forms, Blau said, whether or not they’re completed.

Statewide, the event provided assistance to nearly 1,000 students in 2012, including 91 in Garden City, where a total of 191 applicants and family members attended. Blau said students participated last year from Holcomb, Garden City and 10 other area high schools, including Cimarron, Deerfield, Dighton, Ingalls, Lakin, Syracuse and Ulysses, as well as Scott Community High School, Stanton County High School in Johnson and Wichita County High School in Leoti.

Out-of-town families should note, she added, that GCHS has moved from 1412 N. Main in the central part of Garden City to 2720 Buffalo Way Boulevard, which is located north of Mary Street in the northeast part of the community. Activities will be centered at the media center-library area.

College Goal Sunday began in Indiana in 1989 as a joint project of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association and the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana. Today it is sponsored by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Advisors and other organizations, and in Kansas by the Kansas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Additional information is available at GCCC’s Student Financial Aid Office, 620-276-9519; at www.collegegoal.org or at KansasCollegeGoalSunday on Facebook. Sponsorship is provided by Y-USA, USA Funds and the Kansas Board of Regents Access Challenge Grant.