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Cut the cost of college


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As college draws closer, many seniors wonder how they’re going to afford it. Money shouldn’t be a factor in this decision. That’s why Niles North is hosting a financial aid night tomorrow, Sept. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

The most widely-used way of receiving financial aid is by using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s required by all colleges that accept and award federal aid – in essence, all colleges. This is because it provides financial aid officers the information they need to create your financial aid package. It’s a long process, but it provides a sizeable money break to all incoming college freshmen.

The main topic of the night will be the FAFSA. “Experts in the field will walk parents and students through setting up the account and filling out the forms. (They will) explain when to expect the results and how to read them,” Larissa Petrakis, counselor, explained. “There is a specific financial aid vocabulary – (the experts) define the terms.” The jargon can seem confusing at first, which is why there will be people there to walk the students through it.

The keynote speaker will be Jerry Cebrzynski, Vice President for Financial Aid at Lake Forest College. “He is a nationally recognized expert on financial assistance and scholarships,” Jerry Pope, Dean of College Counselling, remarked. Cebrzynski will be giving a presentation which will be followed by a question and answer session. “He will also be giving tips on filling out the FAFSA and discussing new changes to the financial aid form. We encourage all senior students and the parents from Niles North and Niles West to attend.” This college event is a collaboration between the two schools, and it is not the only one. Several other informative events, such as Coffee with the Counselors, are planned throughout the year.

One of the changes in the FAFSA is that students are required to report income information from earlier years – this year, we’ll fill out information from as far back as 2015. Another is that the FAFSA can be submitted as early as October, instead of January like earlier years.

But FAFSA isn’t the only way to get financial assistance. “(The experts) will talk about other types of aid besides federal aid,” Petrakis added. There are scholarships of every kind – you don’t have to be a stellar student or a sports star to get one. There are also fellowships and grants, which can be awarded to any kind of student. You can apply to as many as you want, and there are many online scholarships that don’t require essays of any kind.

Federal aid isn’t exclusively for the lower-middle class, although that’s who it’ll help the most. Middle class and upper-middle class families are still eligible for federal financial assistance. But it is first-come, first-serve, and the state has run out of money before. Make sure you know how to fill out the FAFSA so you can finish it quickly and submit it.

Our Niles North professionals work hard to help students get into the college that’s best for them. That’s why this event is being held; it’s one of many resources available to us.

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Cut the cost of college