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Ohio University Southern making FAFSA time easier

As high school seniors look toward graduation in May, many parents will be looking toward college and how to afford it.

Applying for financial aid can seem like a daunting task, but Jacki Adkins, financial aid and scholarship coordinator at Ohio University Southern’s Ironton campus, said it doesn’t have to be.

Once again, OUS has been chosen as a host site for the statewide College Goal Sunday. The free, one-day event is held on campuses throughout Ohio to help parents and students fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Adkins said parents or students filling out the forms would be able to complete the entire FAFSA process at OUS on College Goal Day, Feb. 13.

“If they have all the information they need, such as their income for year 2010, such as a tax return, W-2s, they will actually sit at a computer and input their information,” she said. “Hopefully when they leave that day they will have their FAFSA submitted completely.”

Adkins said after meeting in the Bowman Auditorium at 2 p.m., everyone would move to the computer labs to start the process.

“There will be one-on-one help at that point,” said Adkins. “It’s going to be us working one-on-one helping them get the 2011-12 FAFSA completed.”

Adkins said the process is especially difficult for people that have never filled out the forms. Common mistakes, she said, are inputting incorrect Social Security numbers. She also said filling out parent and student income can be difficult.

“When you get to the income section, it seems to get very confusing for completing that, especially for the first time,” Adkins said. “Some of the questions and the way they read, they misinterpret what the question might be asking and they report their income incorrectly, which of course, if they’ve overestimated income, it can maybe lead them to not qualify for something they might have.”

Parents and/or students can register to attend College Goal Sunday at www.ohiocollegegoalsunday.org or by calling 1-888-833-1133.

To fill out the FAFSA forms, parents need to bring their 1040 tax returns and W-2 forms as well as their child’s tax returns and W-2’s. They should also bring social security cards and driver’s licenses and all other benefit and income information.

“We do get a pretty good turnout,” Adkins said of past years. “I always want better, because I want more people to come in and get help.”

“This is an opportunity to have those professionals who have dealt with it and seen several FAFSAs, several different scenarios and situations, to answers those questions and make sure they don’t make some of the most common mistakes or maybe a mistake that would hold them up in the processing of the FAFSA and getting it out to the institutions and schools.”

The deadline for Ohio residents to submit federal forms for the 2011-12 school year is June 30.