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2/22/2011 - Jackson, Miss.

GEAR UP Mississippi (MS) is preparing for a record turnout this year for College Goal Sunday, a statewide event that helps college-bound students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

College Goal Sunday in Mississippi will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, February 26 at 47 locations across the state. The event includes individualized assistance in completing the FAFSA. There will also be a drawing for a $500 scholarship at each site. The scholarship will be applied to the scholarship winner's account at the institution of higher learning where he or she will attend in the fall.

"College Goal Sunday is a great event for students and parents who sometimes do not know where to begin in preparing for college," said Lashanda Colbert Vance, state coordinator of the event.

Sponsored by GEAR UP MS, College Goal Sunday provides on-site help from financial aid experts with a focus on FAFSA. Students must fill out the FAFSA to qualify for federal financial aid, such as grants and loans, to help pay for higher education. Many scholarship donors require students to file a FAFSA, and many colleges and universities use the form to make decisions about institutional grant and scholarship awards.

If available, students and their parents should try to bring the following information with them to a designated College Goal Sunday site:

  • Completed IRS 1040 tax returns;
  • W-2 statements (and other 2010 income and benefits information);
  • Untaxed income records for the previous year (Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, welfare or veterans benefits records);
  • Driver's license (if any); and
  • Registration card (if not a U.S. citizen).

"Applying for financial aid is a critical step in getting prepared for college," Vance says. "The one-on-one guidance at College Goal Sunday from volunteers will make the process less intimidating and will be beneficial to students who are considering college as an option."

More than 600 volunteers helped coordinate College Goal Sunday in 2010, which served about 1,300 families. Aside from GEAR UP MS, sponsors for this year's event include Lumina Foundation for Education, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, USA Funds, Educational Service Foundation, ACT and the YMCA of America.

For more information or to view a complete list of College Goal Sunday sites visit http://www.mscollegegoalsunday.org/.


GEAR UP Mississippi (MS) operates as part of the Institutions of Higher Learning, Office of Academic and Student Affairs, in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Education, State Board for Community and Junior Colleges and community and national partners.

GEAR UP MS actively encourages students to set high academic expectations, stay in school, study hard, and take courses that will prepare them to enter and succeed in college. The program provides educational support services to our partner schools throughout Mississippi.

For more information visit http://www.gearupms.org/.

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