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Help available for Financial Aid pitfalls

Posted at 5:50 PM, Feb 19, 2016
St. Petersburg College Student Brian Gonzalez is now a veteran of filling out financial aid forms.
 
“The first time I did it, it was confusing to me. It was brand new so I had to get help through the process,” he said.
 
There are millions of dollars in Federal grants available, but you have to know the steps to get that college money.
 
And for many the biggest is hurdle is filing the application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA).
 
The application involves a lot of information including tax info. 
 
It causes so many headaches. St. Petersburg College has event to help guide people through it. 
 
“We want to make sure that every student and parents don’t have to deal with the stress of completing this free application for financial aid,” said assistant director of financial services Gwendolyn Reed.
 
One problem that could really lead to stress, the number of frauds related to FAFSA applications and scholarships.
 
The Better Business Bureau said scammers use fake websites, social media posts and hacked emails to look legitimate.
 
 But instead they are designed to rip you off or steal your identity.
 
The BBB said never pay for help to finding scholarships or filling out applications.
 
Watch out for claims that prompt you to buy now or seem too good to be true.
 
You can research any organization on bbb.org
 
“The process, don’t let it overwhelm you. Focus on it and if you need help, just ask on campus or people that went through this process already,” said Gonzalez.
 
St. Petersburg College’s last Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Night, called College Goal is Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 
 
It’s at St. Petersburg College EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N. in Clearwater. 
 
More info from SPC:
Parents and students will receive assistance completing the FAFSA quickly and accurately so they can qualify for the most financial aid possible. Those who participate can expect to get their FAFSA results in just one week. This event includes FREE 2014 tax preparation from 10 a.m. to noon. This event is open to Pinellas County High School seniors and their parents, as well as current college students. Free iPad giveaway opportunity with completion of the FAFSA. Visit www.spcollege.edu/fafsanights for a checklist of documents to bring to ensure successful completion.
 
For online support, the FAFSA's help center is www.fafsa.gov, or visit the Federal Student Aid Information Center.