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MISS SCHOOL MANNERS: FAFSA to the Rescue

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, December 31st, 2007 at 6:58 am in College Apps & Angst, Miss School Manners.

teacher Dear Miss School Manners: Last fall, you mentioned that some local schools host college financial aid nights to help families navigate the stacks of paperwork for getting Cal grants and other tuition help. Have we missed the boat? Signed, Anxious in Antioch

Dear Anxious: Your timing is impeccable — we’ve got more than 52 (!!) college aid sessions coming up at East Bay community colleges and high schools in January and February. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is your key to federal and state grants, student loans, and scholarships from the colleges themselves. Yes, it’s a royal pain to fill out the paperwork, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

This year’s FAFSA is due March 3 and it requires information from your 2007 tax return. So if there was ever a year to get your taxes done early, this is the one. You can file your FAFSA after that date, but you’ll be low wallet on the totem pole. Do. Not. Wait.

You and your teen are welcome to attend the “Cash for College” workshops at any of the 52 East Bay community college or high school sites listed at CalGrants.org. Click “Cash for College,” type in your zip code or county, and it’ll spill a list of dates, locations and document requirements. Diablo Valley College, for example, is hosting a “Cash for College Workshop” on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Pleasant Hill community college’s performing arts center. The college is providing translators and free tax prep services, says DVC financial aid outreach coordinator Rudolf Rose, plus pizza and a prize drawing. Nice!

We can’t guarantee pizza and prizes at the other workshops – sorry! – but you’ll find plenty of FAFSA expertise and paperwork assistance at Antioch High on Jan. 26 from 9:30 a.m. till noon.

In Richmond, De Anza, Kennedy and Richmond High Schools are hosting 90-minute evening workshops on Feb. 5, 12 and 13, respectively. In Oakland, 11 schools are holding financial aid events, from the Jan. 10 workshop at Oakland Technical High School to Laney College’s event on Feb. 23.

The list goes on and on. What’s not on the CalGrant list are the schools who are hosting their own FAFSA nights. Walnut Creek’s Las Lomas High hosts a FAFSA parent night with Mary K. Morrison from Stanford University’s financial aid office on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. in the school theater. And College Park High in Pleasant Hill is hosting a free FAFSA/Financial Aid Workshop on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.

Good luck!

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