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WV colleges offering financial aid help on College Goal Sunday

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The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission will host the fourth annual College Goal Sunday event Feb. 10 at 23 locations throughout West Virginia.

The goal of College Goal Sunday is to help students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, during free workshops. The HEPC recommends the workshops for graduating high school seniors, returning college students and/ or adult students interested in returning to school to earn a degree or certificate.

Students and families are recommended to pre-register for the event online, but pre-registration is not mandatory for the workshops.

During College Goal Sunday, nearly 400 financial aid experts will be on hand to help potential college students complete and submit the FAFSA and explore additional financial aid resources that may be available.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the event highlights the importance of helping West Virginia students attend and succeed in post-secondary education programs.

"College Goal Sunday is made possible through the generosity and dedication of hundreds of volunteers from our state's colleges and universities, college access programs, community organizations, and the business community," Tomblin said in an HEPC news release. "Such collaborative efforts are the key to ensuring that more West Virginians achieve the dream of earning a college diploma, which will in turn ensure the economic success of our great state."

Students, or potential students, who participate in the workshop will be entered in a drawing to win one of 23 Apple iPads being given away across the state. Because completing the FAFSA requires listing information from individuals' tax returns, many sites will also offer free income tax preparation services through a partnership with the West Virginia Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Students and families should bring a driver's license, both the student's and parent's Social Security number, 2012 tax records (or 2011 records if 2012 forms are not yet available), 2012 untaxed income records, and information about investments and bank account balances. All information that is provided will be submitted through the federal government's secure FAFSA network. Volunteers at College Goal Sunday sites will keep students' and families' financial and other information private. A full list of site locations, times, items families should bring, and other details is available through the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV), the state's college access web portal, located at www.cfwv.com.

College Goal Sunday was created by the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association with funding from Lilly Endowment, Inc., and with supplemental support from Lumina Foundation for Education. College Goal Sunday West Virginia is coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission in partnership with the West Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, and college access organizations such as TRiO and GEAR UP.