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Nevadans Headed for College, This Affects You

PHOTO: College-bound in the New Year? Thursday is the start date for applying for college loans and grants based on the Free Federal Application for Student Aid for 2015. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education.
PHOTO: College-bound in the New Year? Thursday is the start date for applying for college loans and grants based on the Free Federal Application for Student Aid for 2015. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education.
December 31, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - An important window soon will open for college-bound students in Nevada who need help paying for tuition.

The Free Federal Application for Student Financial Aid determines how much financial aid schools can award based on a family's financial situation. The application can be filed starting Thursday.

Dr. Laurie Wolfe, executive dean of student services at Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa and a board member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said preparing now can make the process less stressful.

"Now that we're at Christmas time," she said, "that's a good time to sit down with the family and start talking about, 'What do we need to be looking at?' I highly encourage people to get hold of a copy of that application now, look through it, pull together the documents that you need."

The list of documents includes income-tax returns and investment statements. The application deadline is June 30, but to avoid missing any deadlines for special scholarship programs, Wolfe recommended completion before Feb. 15.

Federal aid is based on need and offered through grants and loans. Wolfe said families need to understand the difference, and look at ways to reduce costs before students begin college.

"Our fear is that students will not think about what happens down the road, when they graduate and they're $20-, $25-, $30,000 in debt," she said. "And they have to pay that back and, at the same time, they're trying to buy a new car, get a new house, maybe relocate."

While in high school, she said, students should consider volunteer opportunities that can be helpful experience in getting a scholarship, or high school courses that can be counted for college credit.

More information is online at fafsa.ed.gov.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV