4J Offers Financial Aid Clinics

EUGENE, Ore. — Important financial aid deadlines are fast approaching for college bound seniors.

New this year, 4J is offering a federal pilot program to help students and families complete the process.

Graduation is right around the corner. Next stop for many students–higher education be it a four year university, community college or technical school.

Dashaun Vegas is a senior at the Academy of Arts at North Eugene High School. He hopes to study theater at NYU. How he’s going to pay for college, that’s another issue.

“Loans, grants, scholarships. Probably a job,” he said.

Vegas says he’ll need financial aid. He’s already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.

“My mother and I had quite a time figuring out what certain questions meant, but it’s pretty painless,” Vegas said.

Donna Somerville is 4J’s College and Career Readiness Administrator and knows how important this application is. Not only does FAFSA determine financial aid, it’s a gateway to additional grants and scholarships.

“Students can apply right up until June, but the bigger pots of money and the most amount of money that’s available is in January,” said Somerville.

4J is the only school district in Oregon to offer this federal program, helping students and their parents complete the process. Starting Wednesday, free drop-in clinics will be available at North Eugene, Sheldon, Churchill and South Eugene high schools.

Studies have shown that FAFSA completion correlates strongly with college enrollment, particularly among low-income students. The five-page form is completed on-line. It can take between an hour to 90 minutes.

This pilot program also offers is a follow-up service to track applications. This is where students can inadvertently be disqualified due to typos, misinformation, or no signature.

“The student would lose out. They would not have a chance to go back and actually make the corrections so they can actually receive aid so they can continue their college or technical career,” Somerville said.

With this program, students can monitor their application and make changes if something is incorrect so they won’t miss out on qualifying financial aid. For Vegas now, it’s a waiting game.

“I have applied. I haven’t heard back. My audition for the theater program is February 19th,” he said.

Soon he’ll find out if he’s been accepted at NYU and how much aid he can expect to help pay for his dream.

Here is a complete list of clinic locations and times:

Jan. 9, 2:45 p.m.-5 p.m., North Eugene High School
Jan. 10, 3:30-5 p.m., Sheldon High School
Jan. 11, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., North Eugene High School
Jan. 15, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., Churchill High School
Jan. 16, 3-5 p.m., Churchill High School
Jan. 17, 2:30-4:30 p.m., South Eugene High School
Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., Sheldon High School
Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m., South Eugene High School

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