Clark College offers financial aid help at College Goal Sunday

Workshops give tips on getting assistance at any college, technical school

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter


photoMaria T. Santos Pinacho, 24, a junior at WSU Vancouver, missed one detail in applying for financial aid. She failed to follow up with the college to ensure they'd received her financial aid application. They hadn't. She had to take out a $10,000 loan to help pay for college this year.

(/The Columbian)

If you go

• What: College Goal Sunday. Workshops about financial aid and help in completing the FAFSA. Staff and student volunteers from Washington State University Vancouver and Clark College will answer questions and help students and families complete the 2014 FAFSA.

• When: 1 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: Gaiser Student Center, Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way.

• Cost: Free.

• Languages: All presentations and assistance will be offered in English, Spanish and Russian.

• Bring:

• Student Social Security card/number or alien registration.

• Your income information (bank statements; a W-2 or pay stub, if you have a job; past tax return, if you filed).

• A parent, if you are under 24 years old.

• Your parents’ financial information (bank statements; W-2 or pay stub; last year’s tax return).

• Your parents’ Social Security number, if they have one.

• Any additional financial information (such as child support statements, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or welfare information; real estate, stock or bonds investments; family business or farm information).

Financial aid resources

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

On the Web:

Clark College Financial Aid Office

Phone: 360-992-2153


WSU Vancouver Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

Phone: 360-546-9559



FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Download .PDF

Maria T. Santos Pinacho made one tiny oversight in the process of submitting her Free Application for Federal Student Aid last January. Because of that error, she missed out on receiving a key State Need Grant and had to take out a $10,000 student loan to pay for her junior year at Washington State University Vancouver.

"It was terrifying," she said.

She bought her books and materials with her savings she'd earned at her job. The college deferred her tuition payment until the loan was processed.

"It's very important to file and then follow up with your school to make sure they have all the paperwork they need," said Santos Pinacho, 24.

For the first-generation college student and 2007 graduate of La Center High School, it was a sobering lesson in completing the FAFSA and following up after she'd pushed "submit."

Santos Pinacho was no stranger to completing the annual financial aid information required by colleges to determine how much financial aid students receive. She had completed the FAFSA correctly in previous years. As a Clark College

student, she worked in the school's financial aid office and also volunteered to help students during College Goal Sunday.

She'll have a good lesson to share when she volunteers again at College Goal Sunday at Clark College. The event offers workshops about financial aid presented in English, Spanish and Russian. Staff and student volunteers from Washington State University Vancouver and Clark College will answer questions and help students and families complete the 2014-2015 FAFSA.

The 2014-2015 FAFSA is for any student who plans to attend college summer quarter 2014 through spring quarter 2015 at any college or technical school. The online application requires detailed financial information. The deadline to complete the FAFSA is Feb. 1.

Santos Pinacho will be a group leader in the FAFSA room to help the Spanish speakers complete their financial aid forms.

"This event is very important," she said of College Goal Sunday. "Even if you don't think you're going to college, do the FAFSA. Applying early is the key. And in the Latino or Hispanic community, if the student's parent is undocumented, the student can still qualify for financial aid."

Gwendolyn Curtis also will be helping students at College Goal Sunday. Curtis, 51, will graduate from WSU Vancouver in May with a finance degree and only $5,500 in student loans.

A grandmother and mother of five children, Curtis returned to college at mid-life after her divorce. She earned her associate's degree at Clark College before transferring to WSUV. She's a stickler for submitting her FAFSA in early January. Her financial aid includes various grants, tuition waivers and scholarships.

"I wouldn't have received any of these if I hadn't filled out the FAFSA," Curtis said.

College Goal Sunday

Almost 400 people -- students and their parents -- attended last year's College Goal Sunday, and about 150 students submitted their FAFSA during the event.

"We try to give folks all the information they need to make informed choices when applying for colleges and financial aid," said April Tovar, financial aid and scholarships manager at WSUV. "Students can file late, but students with the highest amount of need might miss out on the state need grants. Schools award financial aid until the money's gone, so it's a first-come, first-served basis."