11/15/2016 — 

WARWICK, RI – On Monday, November 21, 2016 at 6:00 p.m., U.S. Senator Jack Reed will hold a college financial aid workshop at Community College of Rhode Island’s (CCRI) Knight Campus in Warwick.  The free workshop will give college-bound high school students and their parents an opportunity to learn first-hand from student aid experts about how to access available financial aid for college.

"Planning ahead and doing your homework can set students up for success.  This financial aid workshop is designed to help students who need help paying for college.  There are financial aid opportunities out there, and I want to ensure Rhode Islanders know all of their options when it comes to paying for college," said Senator Reed.  "We as a nation also have to take steps to address college affordability in a smart, comprehensive way.  I have proposed legislation to lower federal loan interest rates, help students refinance debt, increase grant aid, and require more accountability from colleges and universities, and I will continue working to pass these commonsense measures and increase need-based financial aid for qualified students."

The informational workshop is a 90-minute seminar 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.  It is never too early for students and their families to begin focusing on how to pay for college, and 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 January 2016 study by the website NerdWallet found that Rhode Island students left nearly $6.8 million on the table in the 2014-2015 school year because they did not complete the financial aid application.  Rhode Island students were not alone — as much as $2.7 billion in grants were not accessed by students nationwide, according to the report, including: $37.1 million in Massachusetts, $20.4 million in Connecticut, $11.5 million in Maine, $6.3 million in New Hampshire, and $5.5 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 a new federal rule change that moved the deadline for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to October 1, three months ahead of the traditional January date.  The FAFSA is used to help determine a family’s expected annual contribution to 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. 

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

WHEN: Monday, November 21, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Community College of RI – Knight Campus

Bobby Hackett Theatre (Auditorium)

400 East Ave.

Warwick