City Clerk del Valle and Ladder Up Offer Valuable Free Help in Completing Student Aid Applications

Students encouraged to complete FAFSA early to possibly receive thousands of dollars in financial aid

Chicago, IL (January 7, 2011) Every year millions of dollars in college financial aid goes unclaimed as students eligible for aid simply fail to complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

To help students navigate the complex financial aid process and receive the maximum amount of aid for which they are eligible, City Clerk Miguel del Valle and Ladder Up are partnering to provide a free FAFSA completion assistance on Tuesday evenings from Jan. 11 through April 12. The assistance program is in Room 107 of City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This is a free service provided by Clerk del Valle to anyone, regardless of income, and no appointment is necessary.

The FAFSA is required for all students seeking grants, work-study opportunities, or student loans. Students interested in attending a university, community college or technical program may be eligible to receive more than $10,000 in grants and other aid for their higher education. Submitting the FAFSA is the first step in applying for financial aid for higher education.

"At a time when critical college aid is needed more than ever, it is a shame that students are missing out on this valuable financial aid to help them complete college," said Clerk del Valle. "It is vital that students and their parents complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible. I encourage all students planning to or even thinking about enrolling in college or a technical school to take advantage of the services offered by Ladder Up."

Students completing the FAFSA could be eligible for the Pell grant, Stafford loans, and campus-based programs, among other things. Information for the College Illinois! 529 Tuition Program is also available at the Tuesday evening sessions.

When attending the Tuesday evening assistance session, students should bring their identification number or Social Security number, the most recent copy of their tax return, preferably from 2010 although a 2009 return is acceptable, and any asset information they may have. If a student is supported by his or her parents, the student should also bring his or her parents’ tax return, Social Security Numbers, if applicable, and birthdates. It is recommended that parents accompany their student to the financial aid assistance session.

"I was confused trying to fill the FAFSA out but Ladder Up took me through step-by-step and answered all my questions", said Christina Estrada, a Chicago student.

"We are pleased to work with Clerk del Valle to offer this valuable service to Chicago students and their parents," said Robert Burke, founder of Ladder Up. "We often hear that students are intimidated by the financial aid application process or feel they won’t be eligible for financial aid. The reality is that many students are eligible for some financial aid and our volunteers and staff will provide one-on-one assistance to help them receive it."

Parents or students needing more information should contact Ladder Up at (312) 458-9105 or visit or