College student aid application deadline nears


College-bound high school seniors have less than a month to complete one of the most important documents they’re going to need in the coming year.

March 10 is the state deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be filed for the 2015-16 school year, and school officials suggest students and parents start filling it out now.

“It needs to be made a priority,” said Dan Johnson, guidance counselor and assistant principal at Medora Community Schools. “It’s one of the first routes to take if you’re thinking about college.”

The FAFSA form has to be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. That aid can includes Pell Grants, federal student loans and federal work-study programs. The online application process can be started at

“The purpose is to gather information about a student’s finances and family so that information can be used to determine the level of aid for the coming year,” said Paul Johnston, who is director of financial aid for Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus.

Johnston suggests parents first file their taxes so they have all the information they need to fill out a FAFSA. For those who have not filed their taxes, there’s an option to select “will file” on the application.

When filling it out, Johnston said parents and students need to work on the FAFSA application together with the student taking the lead.

“It’s the student’s education being determined here and they should take the lead to complete it,” he said.

That’s the way Garry Wells, a Seymour resident, and his son, Garry Wells II, approached the process.

Garry Wells II is currently at student at Cincinnati Christian University in Ohio. The father and son filled it out last weekend.

“The most difficult part was actually waiting to receive all your tax paperwork and filing the taxes. The FAFSA overall is not a difficult task,” Garry Wells said.

The FAFSA comes in two parts — a parent and a student section.

“Actually I completed the parent (section) in under 30 minutes,” Garry Wells said. “I reviewed my son’s work to ensure he filled it out properly. My entire time spent on it was less than hour.”

Johnston said it can take up to an hour or two to fill it out, though he said it’s become easier to fill out in the past few years. He said there’s a “help” option that can explain how each part needs to be answered.

No matter what level of income a parent has, he encourages all students wanting to further their education to fill it out to see if they qualify. After all, it’s free, he said.

“Even if you’re not certain or even if you don’t feel there’s any benefit,” he said. “These days no one knows for sure what the future holds, so there’s really no downside to doing it, it takes a little bit of time and effort.”

For assistance in applying, Johnston suggests parents and students learn about College Goal Sunday on Feb. 22. Colleges will offer free help completing the FAFSA at their campuses, which includes Indiana University Purdue University-Columbus.

Visit to find a location.

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The FAFSA must be received by March 10 to be considered for Indiana state scholarships and grants.

In addition, certain campus-based financial aid awards have limited funding and are awarded only to eligible students who complete the FAFSA by that date.

Students and parents can complete the FAFSA online at

Each FAFSA covers the upcoming fall, spring and summer semesters (for example, the FAFSA that is due March 10 is for the fall 2015, spring 2016 and summer 2016 semesters).

Source: Ivy Tech Community College

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FAFSA help sessions:

Medora High School: 3 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the high school. A representative from Ivy Tech Community College along with teachers will offer assistance filing it out.

Brownstown Central High School: 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the high school computer lab. Guidance counselors will be available to help answer questions and fill it out. 

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Check with the college(s) you are interested in attending. You may also want to ask your college about its definition of an application deadline whether it is the date the college receives your FAFSA, or the date your FAFSA is processed, according to the FAFSA website.


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