WALLINGFORD— Daniela Juarez, senior at Sheehan High School, wanted to find an affordable college choice. Her first option is a community college, which will give her the opportunity to explore different career paths. After signing up for the free application for Federal Student Aid, she was excited to learn that the cost of the community college would be covered by financial aid.

“I am grateful that FAFSA is available. I know university is expensive and I know students can get any kind of help, ”she said.

Juarez was able to get help with the application from the Spanish Community of Wallingford, a nonprofit that helps Latinos. Once or twice a month, SCOW offers students the opportunity to get one-on-one help with FAFSA. During the sessions, students can complete the file with the help of an educational advisor from CONNTAC, an educational opportunities center.

FAFSA is a free federal online financial aid application for colleges, certificate programs, and graduate studies. Colleges use the app to determine eligibility for scholarships, loans, and work-study.

Jacob Li, educational advisor at CONNTAC, assisted Juarez with his FAFSA candidacy. CONNTAC offers college admission assistance, career counseling, and general scholarship assistance.

“Most of the students we work with are on a tight budget and education is expensive,” Li said. “By completing FAFSA, you maximize the chances of getting free money and limit debt incurred.”

Li encourages students to complete the form in the fall of their senior year of high school. The application takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a student must have tax documents to complete the form.

After submitting a FAFSA, students receive a Student Aid Report. The report explains the type and amount of help offered by a college along with expected costs for the year. Once a student receives the help summary from multiple colleges, they can compare which one is the best. The amount of aid a student receives is determined by income per household.

Angela Fragoso, ESL teacher at Platt High School in Meriden, hosted parent / student meetings on FAFSA in Spanish and English. During the meetings, she explains how the college process works, including applying for free Federal Student Aid,

“FAFSA is important for all students, especially those who come from low socio-economic backgrounds,” she said. “Many will be eligible for some kind of financial aid. ”

According to Fragoso, eligibility for the FAFSA includes proof of citizenship, a Social Security number, and demonstrated financial need.

“It’s really important that parents understand the difference between the types of help they can get,” she said.

For more information, visit studentaid.gov. or contact the Spanish Wallingford community at Scowinc.org.

[email protected]: @jarelizz