MEDINA — The annual Medina County College/Trade/Tech and Career Fair drew a crowd of parents and students Wednesday evening at the Medina County Community Center, with many researching financial aid.
The event’s newest resource station — FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid — encouraged parents and students to explore financial assistance opportunities to help pay college and university tuitions.
Denise Testa, director of the Medina County University Center, said about a dozen parents came to the event early — about 5 p.m. for the event that ran 6-7:30 p.m. — to create a login for the program.
“That is the first step in submitting for federal or state financial aid,” Testa said. “We also helped them through the process and talk about the next steps.”
Testa said she also encouraged parents to explore scholarship opportunities for their students through community organizations or universities.
“We serve as a resource for them,” she said. “There are also resources available in the schools or local colleges that we encourage parents and students to use.”
The University Center was among nearly 100 colleges and universities that had tables stacked with information about course offerings, financial aid and giveaways during the event hosted by the Educational Service Center of Medina County and the Medina County Economic Development Corp.
“There were a lot of juniors (that came through), and we encouraged them to create an ID next year,” Testa said. “They’re in the gathering stage right now. For seniors, we encourage them to apply (for FAFSA) for the 2018-19 school year.”
For Medina High School junior Zach Koneval, the event was his first time exploring colleges and career opportunities.
“I’m looking into (studying) engineering,” the Medina Township teen said. “I’m researching schools that are best for engineering … but I’m exploring all my options.”
His mother, Stacy, added: “It’s nice having this event because we can’t go visit every college, and this way we can talk to everyone and see if they have the program, and then narrow it down to a few to visit.”
William J. Koran, superintendent of the Educational Service Center, said organizers take feedback from parents, students and participating colleges and universities and regroup to improve the event for future years.
“We try to add a little more each year to draw more people and help more people,” he said.
In previous evaluations, Koran said they identified a need to offer more financial assistance resources. This year, they partnered with the University Center to offer mobile workstations where parents and students could sign up for FAFSA.
“This opens things up for those who don’t have Internet or want to be one step ahead,” Koran said. “I’m sure this resource was very important to them.”