For high school students thinking about college in the fall, navigating the financial aid maze may be the hardest step.  That's where the Finance Authority of Maine can help.

iStockphoto

FAME is offering Maine residents free help to complete their financial aid application early and to potentially unlock more sources of funding. For families with college-bound students, the applications may be filled out, but the means to attend college may actually depend more on how much financial aid they can get.

The first step to gaining access to funding is to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form as early as possible. The FAFSA is the federal form that all colleges and universities use to determine student eligibility for financial aid.

Many families, however, find the form intimidating so they delay getting it done, and potentially miss out on money for college. In fact, FAME says 50% of high school seniors don’t complete the form.

To help Maine families, the Finance Authority of Maine is hosting a series of FAFSA in-person help sessions across the state.  The sessions are free and open to the public. Financial aid experts will be on hand to work with families to complete and submit the form early.

For Aroostook County residents, there will be a session offered at the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Feb. 4th and another at the Houlton Higher Education Center on Feb 6th. For more info., check out the FAME website.

If families can’t attend an in-person help session, they can visit FAME’s FASFA Online Help and watch a video on how to fill out the form.

FAME is also offering three $1,000 scholarships for participants who complete the FAFSA either at the in-person help sessions or using FAME’s online help. Winners will be randomly selected at the beginning of May 2014.