On November 9th, USM’s Student Financial Services teamed up with representatives from the Financial Authority of Maine (FAME), TRiO, Promise Scholars, and Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) to host a FAFSA Completion Night on both Gorham and Portland campuses to encourage students to fill out their FAFSA. The same event was also held at the Lewiston campus on November 3rd. Student Financial Services puts together a similar event every year. The events were successful, as students from all different backgrounds and ages were able to attend and connect with each other.
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form that allows students to file for federal financial aid, which includes work-study funds, scholarships, grants, and loans. It also provides information about a student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), which will be given to the school a student is enrolled in, or has applied for, and is used to calculate how much funds in scholarships and grants a student will receive from the school as well. The FAFSA becomes available to fill out on October 1st every year, and the priority deadline is February 1st. It can be a difficult and overwhelming process, so events like this are important so students know they’re not alone and there are people who are available to help.
The University Credit Union (UCU) was also attending the event, with a table of pens, frisbees, water bottles, bags, and other various items. The UCU has ATMs on the USM Portland campus, on the second floor of Abromson Center, and in the Maine School of Law. They also have a branch on the Gorham campus in Lower Brooks with a 24 hour ATM, and a video teller from 8-5 on weekdays. Even without an account through UCU, it is possible to connect with a financial advisor to help walk students through various financial circumstances, including FAFSA.
During the FAFSA Completion Night, students were also encouraged to sign up for iGrad, a personal finance program that has been provided by the University of Southern Maine. The program offers money management tools, assistance in searching for scholarships, information on student loans, and courses on various different subjects to maintain safety, such as how to avoid identity theft. iGrad is free to use by USM students, and can still be used after graduation.
Once making an account, the website will take you through a short questionare to collect information on your financial situation. From there, you will be given a “money personality”, which iGrad will use to determine which courses and resources would be best suited for you. Completing one course takes about 15-25 minutes, and if completed before December 1st, students will be entered into a drawing for a $500 scholarship.
Remember to keep in touch with Student Financial Services for any questions about filling out your FAFSA, scholarships, and student loans. You can call them at (207) 780-5250, email them at [email protected], or check out the University of Southern Maine website to find their hours and where their offices are located across the different campuses. To fill out your FAFSA, go to https://studentaid.gov/. To make an iGrad account to learn more about financial literacy, go to https://www.igrad.com/.