ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Hitting the books is only the first step to getting into college for most students. And for many, figuring out how to pay for it is the most difficult assignment of all.
That's why the Free Application For Student Aid, or FAFSA, is such a crucial first step in securing money. And a free workshop is a way for parents and students to make sure they are filling out the application properly.
"We're in it really to help families get the necessary help that they need to get that form off in a best situation possible to enhance their ability to qualify for as much aid as possible," said Todd Smith, Director of Financial Assistance Services for St. Petersburg College.
SPC will host four free workshops in Pinellas County over the next five weeks. Boca Ciega High School will host the first workshop Tuesday night.
"It's immeasurable. Immeasurable, are you kidding me? Parents can actually leave one of these sessions knowing that they've undertaken an enormous task and it's completed," explained Boca Ciega Assistant Principal Kathleen Van Dora.
Completing the comprehensive, and often times confusing, free application is a necessary first step in trying to obtain many different forms of financial aid for college. Even students appreciate the value of the free workshops.
Deitrick Fowler is a senior at Boca Ciega and thinks anyone eyeing college should get to the workshop. "I believe they should come because it will take a lot of pressure and a lot of burdens off of their parents' shoulders," he said.
It can be a stressful time for students and their families as they embark on the realities of college.
"Families who have never gone through that process before, it's foreign to them. So we help walk them through the process and help them navigate the waters," Smith said.
All sessions, including Tuesday's session at Boca Ciega are from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. The remaining dates for the free workshops are:
FEBRUARY 19, 2013- DUNEDIN HIGH SCHOOL
FEBRUARY 26, 2013- LAKEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
MARCH 12, 2013- LARGO HIGH SCHOOL
Applications can be found at: www.fafsa.ed.gov .