PARKERSBURG - College Goal Sunday, when students and parents can receive free help with preparing financial assistance forms for college, will be held Feb. 10 at 23 schools and colleges in West Virginia.
Locally, sessions are scheduled at:
* West Virginia University-Parkersburg, 1-4 p.m., main building Rooms 414 and 415.
* Ripley High School, 1-4 p.m., library
* Glenville State College, 1-4 p.m., Robert F. Kidd Library
College Goal Sunday is coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Division of Student Success and P-20 Initiatives.
About 300 volunteers will provide free assistance preparing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms. More than 1,000 forms were completed last year during the event in West Virginia.
"A strong education gives rise to innovation, a more competitive workforce, and a stronger economy. And it puts people on a path to reaching their dreams. Getting there isn't always easy, which is why planning is so important," said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
"Though the fall semester seems far off, this is the time of year when high school seniors and their families, as well as people interested in finishing or starting their degrees, are thinking about their futures. Helping West Virginians realize their goal of higher education has always been important to me. That's why I have fought to make that goal more affordable."
Rockefeller highlighted several resources and options for West Virginians looking to further their education:
* Federal Grant Programs: The federal government offers grant funds for students attending colleges or career schools. Unlike loans, these grants do not have to be repaid. The Federal Pell Grant Program is a need-based grant program for use at one of 5,400 participating institutions. The government also offers grants for military service and for students who agree to teach. There is a fact sheet on federal student aid options or visit studentaid.ed.gov. To qualify for federal aid, students must complete FAFSA.
* Income-Based Repayment: The Income-Based Repayment Program caps required monthly payments on eligible federal loans based on income and family size.
* Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program: The program encourages students to enter public service by offering loan forgiveness to public service employees. After employees have served 10 years or more in certain public service jobs, they may qualify to have the remaining balance of outstanding loans forgiven.
* Learning Express Library: From the West Virginia Library Commission, the program offers more than 770 free online practice tests, including the SAT and ACT, at WVInfoDepot.org. Students can access these practice tests plus tutorials and eBooks from home, school or the local library.
* Financial Awareness Counseling: The U.S. Department of Education has an interactive loan counseling tool that can provide information on current loan debt and estimates for future student loan levels. Students can receive personalized feedback based on their individual loan histories.