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Officials: apply early for financial aid

When it comes to college financials — and more specifically financial aid — Georgia Gwinnett College employee Laurel Starling-McIntosh said being aware of deadlines is crucial.

As the institution’s assistant director of financial aid, she said that students “shouldn’t wait until they’re admitted to college to start asking questions about FAFSA.”

She’s referring to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. All students interested in financial aid for college will need to complete this form.

Kimberly Jordan, director of financial aid, said there’s often confusion about the FAFSA. “One of the misnomers is that FAFSA is this nebulous entity that gives people money, but really it’s just an application,” Jordan said.

She said students should consider beginning the application process generally when they or their parents file taxes — in March or April.

“The schools and colleges will receive the FAFSA, review it, then determine the financial aid award, which can mean anything from scholarships to federal work study awards to student loans,” Jordan said.

She added that those in her office “try to educate students about loans and help them minimize the debt they take on. Students who live on campus sometimes do need to take out loans, and it’s not unheard of for a new student to come and speak to a financial aid advocate.”

In fact, Jordan said, she encourages all students at GGC and beyond to visit the financial aid office with any related questions.

Those questions not covered by their financial aid office may be available at www.fafsa.ed.gov/