Boston- Paying for college tuition is a daunting challenge, but State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) wants to remind parents and students that help is available. According to recent studies from the Board of Higher Education’s (BHE) Task Force on Student Financial Aid, the impact of budget shortfalls since 2001, along with the continual rise in the cost of higher education have taken a toll on the ability of Massachusetts families to pay for college. Fortunately, free guidance is available to help applicants through this process.
In previous years, Massachusetts students secured more than $1 billion in grants and low-interest loans from federal and state programs, as well as millions of dollars in scholarships from colleges and universities.
Downing impressed the need for students to begin their financial aid search, “Students planning on attending college and their families need to be aware of the resources available for finding and applying for financial assistance. The time to act is now, as the process for applying for financial aid is underway. While substantial aid is available, students should apply early, preferably before March 1st, and research all possible sources of aid.”
Federal and state governments, along with college and universities, are major source of financial aid. Students begin the process of applying for both federal and state aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Many private colleges and universities also require a second form, the CSS PROFILE®, which is also available online at https://profileonline.collegeboard.com.
To receive free guidance on identifying sources of financial aid and completing applications, students and families throughout Massachusetts may call The Education Resources Institute’s (TERI) toll free hotline 1-877-ED-AID-4U (1-877-332-4348). To obtain one-on-one guidance on applying for financial assistance, TERI established several college planning centers throughout the Commonwealth including one in Pittsfield at The Learning Connection, 10 Lyman Street, (413) 499-9531. TERI is a non-profit organization whose service is made available through a partnership with the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.