Grand County High School students prepare free applications for federal student aid. [Courtesy photo]

As challenging and stressful as high school can be, one’s senior year is arguably the most stressful of all.

Not only do students in their final year of high school need to make sure they are fulfilling all of the prerequisites required to earn a diploma from the school they are graduating from, they are faced with the daunting task of applying to college at the same time.

Not to mention how to pay for college once they are accepted.

Grand County High School, in conjunction with the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA), is aiming to help the transition between high school and college become a bit smoother for students and families by hosting “Paying for College Night” at the school’s auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m.

The night dedicated to helping students and their parents navigate the confusing process of financing a college education begins with a presentation by a representative of the UHEAA followed by a question-and-answer session, and ends with informal meetings with representatives of colleges and universities from around the state.

UHEAA’s mission as an organization is to facilitate college attendance in Utah, Grand County High School counselor Tom Edwards said, and this will be the fourth year the presentation has been organized by the program, which works closely with the Utah System of Higher Education and StepUP Utah in order to provide resources for students and their families.

The event has grown since its inception in the late 1990s when it was known as “College Knowledge Night,” Edwards said.

“In the early days, this event was sponsored solely by the Grand County High School counseling department, for seniors and their parents,” Edwards said. “(Former Grand County High School counselor) Peggy Nissen would provide students and parents all kinds of information about college, with an emphasis on the variety of ways parents could get help paying for college. In a community that had no local model of a college, this information was invaluable.”

UHEAA’s Sumiko Martinez will be hosting the event, and is excited to participate again in a program that over the years has caused dozens of students and parents to reach out to and thank her for the presentation that tackles head-on the many myths and misconceptions regarding paying for college.

“There are a lot of incorrect rumors floating around out there, and we have accurate and up-to-date information to share with students and parents,” Martinez said.

The presentation will cover all facets of federal student aid, including grants, work-study programs and student loans, while also providing tips on applying for scholarships of all kinds. The question-and-answer segment following the program will allow for students and families to get help with questions and concerns specific to their circumstances.

“One of the best things about this presentation is that it is face-to-face, and if you have particular questions that are unique to your situation, you can bring your questions and talk to our financial aid experts,” Martinez said.

The presentation is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and will be hosted in the Grand County High School auditorium at 608 S. 400 East in Moab. There is no charge for entrance.

Presentation to highlight financial tips for students

“There are a lot of incorrect rumors floating around out there, and we have accurate and up-to-date information to share with students and parents.”

When: Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Grand County High School auditorium, 608 S. 400 East

Cost: Free