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Try to get financial aid for college early

Each winter, New Yorkers and families across the country are confronted with one of the most crucial financial concerns regarding their teenage children: how to pay for their college education.

In recognition of this annual “rite of passage,” Gov. David Paterson has proclaimed Jan. 25 to Feb. 25 Student Financial Aid Awareness Month, a period during which the state will host a series of events aimed at educating students and families about all the financial aid opportunities available for college and how to apply for them.

Throughout the month, the New York State Higher Education Services Corp., New York’s student financial aid agency, will hold community outreach events for students and families to encourage completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the key that unlocks the door to nearly all types of free federal, state and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, some scholarships, loans and work-study programs.

Every metro New York City and Long Island family with a college-bound student, as well as those with a child currently attending college, should aim to complete the FAFSA during January and February to have the best chance of garnering assistance.

While it is widely believed aid is not available for someone who meets “my financial circumstances,” the reality is there is an array of financial aid available. It is just a matter of completing the process thoroughly and early.

For more information and help in getting started early, visit the HESC’s Web site at startheregetthere.org. Additional information is available by calling 1-800-808-1790, which is open every Wednesday from noon to 6 p.m. throughout Financial Aid Awareness Month.

Elsa Magee

Executive Vice President and Acting President

State Higher Education Services Corp.

Albany

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