Financial aid application available to those looking for help

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COLUMBIA - Federal Student Aid is now accepting FAFSA applications to see if you or your child is eligible for financial aid to help pay for higher education.

FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a U.S. Department of Education program that offers more than $150 billion dollars each year according to their website.

Eligibility is determined by “financial need,” which is defined as “the difference between the cost of attendance at a school and your Expected Family Contribution.” This is determined through the information you fill out on the FAFSA using tax documents.

Although eligibility varies depending on one’s income and need, there is no age limit when it comes to receiving federal student aid.

Aid can come in the form of work-study, grants, or loans that must be repaid with interest.

Work-study is a work program through which you earn money to help pay for school, while grants are financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid unless you withdraw from school.

Missouri’s priority deadline is February 1st, but one local employee who focuses on financial aid recommends filling it out sooner rather than later.

“You want to fill it out early because the earlier you fill it out the more money that you have available to you,” said Jeff Barringer, who is the Assistant Director of Day Admissions at Columbia College.

Columbia College will be hosting “FAFSA Frenzy” on October 27th and December 11th to help people fill out the application.

“It’s one of those things that can be difficult or daunting if you don’t know anything about it. Fortunately we know a lot about it so we’re able to help students regardless of where they want to go to college,” Barringer said.

The event starts at 6 p.m. and for more information visit Columbia College’s website