FAFSA Fun Fest Fridays to launch this week

By Jacqueline Evans

Students are expected to swarm Swen Parson Hall Friday afternoon to see just how much financial aid they will receive next year.

The Student Financial Aid Office will host FAFSA Fun Fest on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to kick off the semester-long series of FAFSA Fridays that will help students complete their Free Application for Student Aid before the NIU priority filing date of March 1 for the 2011-12 academic year.

“This is a huge retention effort disguised as a party,” said Jane Jordan, associate director of the Student Financial Aid Office. “We wanted to get students to complete their FAFSA earlier this year.”

The Student Financial Aid office hosted FAFSA Fridays last year and, because of the turnout, decided to repeat the program.

“We had 1,400 more students complete their FAFSA by May 1 because of FAFSA Friday last year,” Jordan said.

Jordan said in the last academic year, 2009-10, the MAP Grant was suspended on April 19 and all of those who did not apply before then were unable to receive the grant.

“Our concern is that the MAP Grant will be suspended even earlier this year,” said Jordan. “We’re trying to encourage students to begin scholarship searches and ask financial aid questions before it’s too late.”

The Fun Fest will include free food, raffles and tours of the Student Financial Aid Office located in Swen Parson Hall Room 245.

Prizes will be given away that were donated from various NIU and DeKalb businesses such as Huskie Athletics, the University Bookstore and the Village Commons Bookstore, the One Card Office, McDonald’s, Target, Walmart and the Junction Eating Place.

The Student Financial Aid Office also contacted various NIU departments to support their effort, such as CHANCE, CAAR, Housing and Dining, Student Involvement and Leadership Development Office and Military Student Services.

“We tried to get offices involved in FAFSA Fun Fest that are related to student success,” said Jane Jordan.

The Fun Fest is also designed to take away some of the stigmas about the Student Financial Aid Office.

“I hope students don’t see us as an intimidating office, but a caring place that wants to help the students of NIU,” Jordan said.

Jorrie Reed, senior secondary education major, said she plans to attend the program.

“I think this is a really good program to have and I’m going to go because I have some questions about financial aid that I will definitely be able to ask,” Reed said.