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Sports Editor Alexa Shrake writes the column "Up on the Hill" to discuss issues in government and politics.

Tax forms such as W-9 and I-9 are all things we've heard when applying for the FAFSA ever since high school. But after so many years, we still have no idea what they really mean.

When my mom informed me that I had to figure out how to afford school on my own, I thought about transferring after my freshman year to a much more affordable school close to home. Over $20,000 in debt after freshman year, I made the decision to commute.

Many students choose to commute to save money, including sophomore Emma Arcand, who lives at home in Franklin with her parents.

“College is so expensive, and at this age, I don’t have that kind of money,” Arcand said. “I am trying to think of my future.”

Free Application for Financial Student Aid, of FAFSA, is a part of the U.S. Department of Education and is the largest provider of student aid in the nation. The application determines how much one is eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, state aid and student loans.

“The FAFSA is the government’s attempt at trying to assess the students’ family situation and based on the finances, how likely the family is able

to contribute to the student’s college expenses,” said Vinny Vincent-Dunn, Franklin College director of financial aid.

For many students on campus, their estimated family contribution is not

an accurate representation of what their family can afford. They may be considered a dependent, but their parents actually are involved in their life.

The Franklin College Office of Financial Aid can wave the parent portion of the FAFSA if a student is truly independent. They can also help students with tough home situations.

The U.S. Department of Education provides assistance at the beginning of the COVID-19 global pandemic for students based off of their FAFSA.

Franklin College received $535,937 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief

and Economic Security, or CARES, Emergency Relief Grant funds on April 30 for students struggling with economic stress due to the pandemic.

There were 805 active students eligible for the CARES Emergency Relief Grant, and 752 students received it. This grant relieved economic stress for many students like me.

“If you’re experiencing any sort of special unique weird circumstance due to the pandemic, please let us know because we may be able to help,” Vincent-Dunn said.

The financial aid office helped me through my financial stress and gain understanding of the FAFSA. While it has been a difficult decision to continue my education at Franklin College, I am grateful for all the aid and guidance.

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