Diverse audience for UW-P College Goal Wisconsin
For many of the students and families attending Sunday's College Goal Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, "FAFSA" was a mystery.
"I would say the majority didn't know where to start, so we helped them through the entire application process," said UW-Parkside Financial Aid Counselor Jamie Thomson.
FAFSA is the acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, the first and most important step for students seeking financial aid such as grants and loans.
"We had some people come in who had already completed [the FAFSA form] and they wanted us to check it over," Thomson said. "But the majority of them had never attended a high school financial aid night--that's where we go out to the high schools and help them understand the FAFSA before they fill it out. Some of them had never done that."
Thomson said some of the questions were basic: how do I get into FAFSA because a personal identification number is required, what sort of tax information is needed and the like. There were a number of questions raised by what Thomson called "tricky family situations"--divorces, veterans benefits, aid to dependent children?--at needed to be addressed.
UW-Parkside Director of Student Financial Aid Randy McCready said College Goal Wisconsin reinforced for him how important a college degree continues to be for students and their families.
"The value people place on education is definitely high. People see this as part of the stepping stones to success in the future," McCready said.
He added that he was pleased by the diversity of the people who attended the event saying they reflected the university's current student population.The UW-Parkside Student Center Ballroom was one of 29 sites around the state to host a College Goal Wisconsin session on Sunday.