Anyone who banks with SECU can go to a branch this month to get help finding scholarships for college.
It’s crunch time for college applicants who want to be enrolled somewhere by next fall. For “early admission,” which can make it easier to get accepted, colleges typically require people to apply by sometime in November (the exact dates vary by school). And for many colleges, the absolute latest that people can apply is in January, February or March.
So all this month SECU, the State Employees’ Credit Union, is offering customers free help with the program known as FAFSA.
“If you are the parent of a high school senior, you know how much effort goes into preparing for college,” the credit union wrote on its website. “One important task that should not be overlooked is filling out a ‘FAFSA’ – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is required to determine a college student’s eligibility for federal and state financial aid, such as grants, student loans and work-study opportunities. Everyone who’s preparing to attend college should fill out the FAFSA.”
Before you go to the credit union, go to fsaid.ed.gov and register to get a Federal Student Aid identification. Bring it with you, as well as your 2016 tax information. SECU also suggests people start filling out as much of the FAFSA forms as they can on their own before coming in, to cut down on wait times at the bank.
The credit union also gives out its own scholarships to high school students looking to attend college or community college, as well as to older people who want to go back to school for job training. More information is at ncsecufoundation.org/scholarships.html
SECU is a private credit union open to anyone in North Carolina who is a current or retired state employee, public school teacher, federal employee who works with state agencies, who works with certain county agencies, or who is related to a current member.
What does FAFSA do?
The FAFSA allows students with financial need to access loans, grants and work-study opportunities.
It’s open to people who are thinking about applying to college, as well as any current undergraduate or graduate students.
An estimated 85 percent of people who apply through FAFSA end up getting aid – and the government says many people who are eligible never apply, leaving billions of dollars on the table.
People who get turned down may still qualify for another type of federal financial aid called a Stafford Loan, or they can take out student loans from a private bank.
For people who aren’t SECU customers or don’t have time to go to a bank, the government has a website with explanations on how to apply at fafsa.ed.gov
People on social media are also pitching in with FAFSA suggestions, memes and more using the hashtag #FormYourFuture.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran