Kathaerine A. Johnson, Director of Programs & Agency Operations, Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, talks to Sonoran Living about College Goal Sunday (and Saturday too!)

Navigating the world of financial aid can be tricky for students and families, but on Saturday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb. 12 from 2-4 p.m. students across the state will receive help completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during the 16th annual Arizona College Goal Sunday and Saturday Too!

With rising tuition and higher expenses, the FAFSA is a critical first step for students to receive any type of financial assistance. More than 80 percent of all student financial assistance is provide by the federal government, yet many students do not complete the FAFSA or turn it in too late, missing out on financial aid.

“Completing the FAFSA early is the key to removing one of the most common barriers students face in going to college,” explained Dr. April Osborn, Executive Director for the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. “By completing the FAFSA early, college-bound students can be considered for all available student financial assistance to help them pay for their educational expenses.”

Twenty-five locations statewide from Northern Arizona to Maricopa County to Tucson will host College Goal Sunday and Saturday TOO! events on Saturday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb. 12 from 2-4 p.m. Specific cities include: Casa Grande, Chinle, Flagstaff, Gilbert, Glendale, Globe, Keams Canyon, Mesa, Nogales, Page, Phoenix, Prescott, Tucson, Tempe, Tuba City, Willcox and Yuma. Spanish and Navajo interpreters will be available at select locations.

“Events like this are crucial to raising the bar for Arizona education and making postsecondary education a priority for all Arizona students,” said Pearl Chang Esau, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona. “We recently launched a campaign encouraging parents to be active participants in their children’s education every step of the way, and Arizona College Goal Sunday and Saturday Too! is a great way to be involved.”

In addition to receiving help completing the FAFSA, student attendees who submit a completed FAFSA at the event will have an opportunity to win a $1,000 scholarship or a new Kindle Fire e-reader.

Students attending the event are encouraged to register for a personal FAFSA PIN in advance of the event at www.pin.ed.gov and bring their parents’ 2011 tax returns (if available) or W-2s, social security numbers and other tax information.

Visit CollegeGoalSunday.com or call 602-258-2435 x117 for information on specific location addresses and line-by-line FAFSA instructions. For more information on planning for college, visit Expect More Arizona’s College and Career Planning Guide to download the guide and use the interactive planning tool.