WARWICK, RI – On Monday, November 19 at 6:00 p.m., U.S. Senator Jack Reed will hold his annual college financial aid workshop for high school students and families at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Knight Campus.  The free workshop provides college bound students an opportunity to learn first-hand from student aid experts about how to access available financial aid resources.

“Planning for your future starts today.  This financial aid workshop is designed to assist students who need help paying for college navigate the federal and state financial aid programs.  It gives students a chance to learn about their options when it comes to paying for college, and get advice from experts,” said Senator Reed.  “I will continue working to make college more affordable and the financial aid process easier for students and families.  Increasing need-based financial aid for qualified students is a smart investment that helps today’s students become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.”

The 90-minute seminar is designed to help high school students and their families get a better sense of the financial aid options available at the federal and state levels, the eligibility criteria for these different types of aid, and the application process. 

Senator Reed is encouraging current high school seniors to begin the process now so they can take full advantage of all available resources.

Financial aid can help reduce student loan debt, but many families don’t even realize they are eligible, and never apply.  A recent 2018 analysis by NerdWallet, a personal finance site, found that Rhode Island freshmen entering college this fall left nearly $6 million on the table in the 2018-2019 school year because they did not complete the financial aid application.  Rhode Island students were not alone — as much as $2.6 billion in grants were not accessed by students nationwide, according to the report, including: $32.7 million in Massachusetts, $17.6 million in Connecticut, $10 million in Maine, $5.3 million in New Hampshire, and $4.5 million in Vermont.

During the workshop, financial aid and education experts will offer tips and discuss the loan and grant application process, what to expect when applying for financial aid, the process of paying back student loans, and tax benefits to assist with college expenses.  Panelists will include representatives from the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA), the College Planning Center of Rhode Island, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner’s Division of Higher Education Assistance, the Rhode Island Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants.  

One of the topics at the forum will be the latest information for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA is used to help determine a family’s expected annual contribution for college expenses and eligibility for need-based federal aid, such as Pell grants.  It is also the form Rhode Island residents complete to determine eligibility for the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, a program that is available to Rhode Island residents attending colleges or universities in Rhode Island.  Common errors people make when completing the FAFSA can potentially cost students tens of thousands of dollars when it comes to receiving financial aid. 

The FAFSA form became available to students on October 1 and Senator Reed has encouraged Rhode Island students to submit their FAFSA forms early so they can get a more complete picture of their eligibility for federal, state, and school financial aid and their future college costs.

WHO: U.S. Senator Jack Reed; Student Loan & Financial Aid Experts from College Planning Center of RI; Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner & the Division of Higher Education Assistance; RI Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators; RI Society of Certified Public Accountants; RI Student Loan Authority

WHEN: Monday, November 19 at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: CCRI Knight Campus
Bobby Hackett Auditorium
400 East Avenue