Local Scramble Begins For College Education Funds

POTTSTOWN PA – Local Internet traffic might spike a little today as, back fresh from their winter vacations, parents of high school seniors in the Pottsgrove, Pottstown and Spring-Ford Area school districts get down to the business of finding financing for their children’s future college education.

20140102-FafsaFrenzy-GoogleImagesWednesday (Jan. 1, 2014) was the first day parents could file their family’s Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form with the U.S. Department of Education. It is used to determine how much, if any, college financial assistance the government might offer. But experts say online filings begin in earnest today (Thursday, Jan. 2) when the post-holiday work routine resumes.

The filing deadline for the Fall 2014 semester at most post-secondary schools is May 1.

The department claims completing and submitting the FAFSA “is free and quick,” and gives applicants access “to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school;” more than $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds annually, according to its website.

Grant money is free but generally in far shorter supply than what parents hope for, and competition for it is fierce. More likely available are a variety of loan packages – some federally subsidized, some not – at a growing variety of interest rates. Because students probably won’t have jobs to immediately support paying for those loans, the task of financing usually falls to parents. That results in the yearly scramble to get a FAFSA filed.

Filers will need a personal identification number from the government to submit the application; it’s available at no cost from a special department website, here.

Montgomery County Community College, at both its Pottstown and Blue Bell campuses, is providing a series of free single-day workshops to help guide parents through the FAFSA process. They begin in early February and end in mid-April. Find a list of what’s scheduled, here.

Photo from Google Images