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2/10/2012 - Jackson, Miss.

Students preparing to attend college next fall can find answers to critical questions regarding financial aid at the upcoming College Goal Sunday events. With 60 College Goal Sunday sites scheduled across the state, there is one near every student in the state. The events will be held February 18-29 and are open to anyone seeking financial assistance to attend college during the 2012-2013 school year – including adults planning to attend college for the first time or returning to college to pursue a new career or update skills.

“Applying for financial aid is a critical step in preparing for college,” said Lashanda Colbert Vance, coordinator of College Goal Sunday in Mississippi and Director of Special Projects for GEAR UP Mississippi. “The event will benefit students who are unsure about whether college is right for them, as well as non-traditional students who may need one-on-one guidance.”

College Goal Sunday is a statewide volunteer program that provides free information and assistance to students and families who are applying for financial aid for post-secondary education. A list of sites, event information and information on how to prepare can be found at mscollegegoalsunday.org.

College Goal Sunday brings together financial aid professionals from colleges, universities and technical schools, along with other volunteers, to help college-bound students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

The FAFSA is required to qualify for federal grants and student loans. Each year, federal programs provide billions of dollars in grants, loan and work-study assistance, as well as higher education tax benefits. To qualify for most types of financial aid, students much complete and file the FAFSA. Many colleges and universities also use the FAFSA to make decisions about institutional grant and scholarship awards.

At each College Goal Sunday site, students and families can complete the FAFSA online. Those who plan to do so will need to obtain a personal identification number (PIN) from the federal government by accessing pin.ed.gov and bring it to the event.

“Even students unsure about what college or university they plan to attend should come to College Goal Sunday,” said Vance. “It will help them understand the types of funding available for post-secondary education.”

Online registration is available for those planning to attend. Though not required, pre-registration helps organizers prepare for the event.

College Goal Sunday and GEAR UP Mississippi operates as part of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Office of Academic and Student Affairs, in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Education, Mississippi Community College Board and community and national partners.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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