Lake Michigan College to host free FAFSA night to all

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, February 18, 2020

BENTON HARBOR — Lake Michigan College views itself as a resource for the communities it encapsulates, said Jeremy Schaeffer, director of admissions and recruitment.

As part of that mission, LMC will host a federal financial aid assistance night free of charge to everyone, student or not, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The college’s financial aid staff will be available to help people understand and apply for federal student aid at the student services area at the Benton Harbor campus’ main building entrance. The campus uses one general address, 2755 E Napier Ave., Benton Harbor. The main building marks the end of the boulevard drivers will take to get into the college.

This is the third year LMC has hosted such an event. Schaeffer, who is a lead organizer, said the number of people who registered is its largest yet.

While registering is not required, it is helpful, he said. To do so, prospective attendees can go to, email or text or call (269) 927-8626.

The event is open for anyone, whether an LMC student, a student of another college, a prospective student or a family member.

“We know that education is something we’re passionate about, so why shouldn’t we help anyone who’s seeking that opportunity for education?” Schaeffer said.

The admissions director said an important part of any prospective college student’s decision to attend an institution is having the financial means to do so. For many, federal financial aid can be the key to accessing education.

LMC’s volunteer staff will guide attendees individually though the application process, making sure they understand why they may be checking boxes, filling out personal information or searching for tax forms.

Schaeffer said completing financial aid applications is a new, difficult process for many people. The tax forms required to properly fill the application out can be confusing. That process is different for each person, depending on their financial history.

Stress can be heightened because considerable money can be on the line, he added.

There may also be nerves present because applicants will be in crunch time. The deadline for filing for federal aid is Sunday, March 1.

“This is a good, right-before-that moment to come in and make sure that they’ve all got it put away and ready to go so that they’re all eligible for as much aid as possible,” Schaeffer said of prospective attendees.

Schaeffer recommends that people bring tax information from 2018. The most commonly used Internal Revenue Service forms for financial aid applications are the 1040 form, which people use to file annual tax returns, and the W-2 form, which shows the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks in a given year. The latter is sent by employers while the former is used when filing tax returns.

Whether attending a Mendel Center event, taking a summer class or applying for financial aid, Schaeffer said LMC wants to make sure it is a strong community partner.

If students miss LMC’s federal financial aid assistance night, they can attend one of three similar sessions hosted by Michigan Works! and the Berrien College Access network Feb. 26 at 499 W. Main St., Benton Harbor. The sessions are from 9 to 11 a.m., noon to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Both new and returning students are welcome.