For the first time, Prince George’s County Public Schools will hold six workshops giving parents and students additional opportunities to get help completing college financial aid applications. The goal of the workshops is to get every student applying for college to also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), PGCPS representatives said. The […]
For the first time, Prince George’s County Public Schools will hold six workshops giving parents and students additional opportunities to get help completing college financial aid applications.
The goal of the workshops is to get every student applying for college to also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), PGCPS representatives said. The FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for student financial aid, such as federal student loans.
“Historically, we’ve had presentations for FAFSA to give an overview on financial aid process,” said Alonzo Bailey, a career academy coordinator of Secondary School Reform, a system-wide initiative to reform secondary schools. “This year, we’re going to do a collective effort with Prince George’s Community College and the University of Maryland so parents and students can complete financial aid applications online on the spot.”
The financial aid workshops will have three breakout sessions, Bailey said. One session will be dedicated to students who have all required documents, another for students with some documents and the third for students with special circumstances, such as undocumented students.
The FAFSA requires applicants to know their family’s financial information, such as their parents’ income and federal income tax returns from the previous year.
“A lot of our students are low-income or first generation. They have difficulty navigating the college process,” said Bailey. “We want to make sure financial aid did not pose a barrier to students going to college. We want to provide support and families support throughout the process,” he said.
Paying for higher education can be costly, especially if a student has to pay out-of-state tuition, attends a private university or has to move on or near campus to attend the school.
Full-time tuition and mandatory fees for one year alone at the University of Maryland, College Park costs $9,427, according to the university’s bursar’s office. If a student lived on-campus for an academic year, they would have to pay an additional $10,633.
Lateefah Durant, an academic officer for Secondary School Reform, said students might not apply to a more selective school because they assume the school will cost more.
“We want to make sure our students don’t see finances as a barrier, to help families see that college can be affordable,” Durant said.
Jocelyn Nolasco, a senior at Parkdale High School, said she thinks the financial aid workshops will be beneficial.
“[Financials] affects me in a huge way. You have to look at tuition, you have to look at how much financial aid they will give you,” said Nolasco, who would be a first-generation college student. Nolasco said she’s applied to the University of Maryland – College Park, American University and other schools.
“If I don’t get a scholarship that will cover at least half of tuition, it means I have to start working. I’ll have to look at how I can balance work with school. Things like that may distract me a little bit from my studies,” Nolasco said.
The following high schools will host the college financial aid workshops: Northwestern High School on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m., Roosevelt High School on Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m., Oxon Hill High School on Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m., Central High School on Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m., Forestville High School on Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m. and Laurel High School on Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Students may submit FAFSA applications beginning Jan. 1.