Belfast Free Library will host financial aid experts from FAME ME on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. FAME offers in-person help to Maine students and families seeking financial aid for higher education. Experienced financial aid experts will be on hand to help families complete the FAFSA application on the spot.

FAFSA is the federal application that all schools use to determine student eligibility for federal financial aid. The form for the 2018-2019 school year can be found at

According to FAME, only about 62 percent of Maine high school seniors completed the FAFSA by May 1 of last year. “As a result, many students left significant grant money on the table, while others missed out on financial aid completely,” said Martha Johnston, director of education at FAME.

“We want to get the word out that every family sending a child off to college, trade, or technical school should complete the FAFSA, and we’re here to help them. Significant financial aid does exist and the earlier families apply the more aid they may be able to receive.”

Families attending the sessions should bring the following information to the help sessions:

• FSA ID — this user name and password is needed to access all federal student aid websites, including the FAFSA. FAME recommends the student and one parent create it ahead of time at

• Social Security numbers for student and parents

• Information to estimate student and parents' income — such as W-2 forms or last year’s federal income tax returns — and other records of money earned

• Current bank statements for student and parents

This marks the 12th year FAME has made these In-Person FAFSA Help Sessions available to Mainers. Over the years FAME has assisted more than 7,500 families through these events.

Johnston says that FAME hopes to help reduce Maine residents’ student loan debt. She adds that completing the FAFSA as early as possible is one of the best ways to minimize student loan borrowing. Many students fail to complete the FAFSA, or submit it after critical deadlines.

For example, some colleges have financial aid deadlines in February and March, and the FAFSA is used by FAME to award the Maine State Grant for all applicants who apply by May 1st. These students miss out on potential grants and end up borrowing more than they would have needed to.

If families are not able to attend the in-person help sessions, FAME also offers online support.

Questions? Call FAME at 1-800-228-3734 or Belfast Free Library at 798-0556, ext. 24.