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For many colleges and universities, March 1 is an important deadline for submitting paperwork to apply for colleges in the fall 2014 semester.

Many institutions have a deadline of March 1 for all college applications and paperwork for scholarships and financial aid, said Kim Coufal, Farmington High School s Financial Aid College Entrance counselor.

March 1 is also the priority deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a form that determines students eligibility for financial aid.

The FAFSA has a final deadline of June 30. Submitting the FAFSA paperwork earlier ensures priority consideration for grants and loans.

FARMINGTON — Students and parents crowded into the gym at Farmington High School on Wednesday night to research universities while college representatives were available to answer questions.

The high school's Financial Aid College Entrance, or FACE, program hosted the second annual Spring Four Corners College Fair in the high school's auxiliary gym.

Colleges and universities from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado were on hand to answer questions from parents and students about the admissions process.

FACE, which is funded through grants from Merrion Oil and Gas and BP America, places counselors at both Farmington and Pierda Vista high schools to provide resources and help students with the college application process.

At left, Molly Harmon with Northern Arizona University and Catherine Walker Grobler, an academic adviser with the University of New Mexico, talk about
At left, Molly Harmon with Northern Arizona University and Catherine Walker Grobler, an academic adviser with the University of New Mexico, talk about their programs on Wednesday with prospective students and their families during the second annual college fair at Farmington High School. (Jon Austria /The Daily Times)

Farmington High FACE counselor Kim Coufal said the spring event prepares juniors, sophomores and eager freshman for the college admissions process while helping graduating seniors finish late applications.

"If you are breathing and graduating from high school, I can get you into a college," Coufal said. "It's really good for the students who weren't really on top of it in the fall."

Cory Butts, an admissions counselor for Colorado State University at Pueblo, said some seniors at the fair filled out late applications and asked questions about scholarships and financial aid deadlines. But mostly, he said, spring college fairs offer a chance for juniors to begin researching requirements and degree programs offered at colleges.

"It's just great they are even considering colleges," Butts said. "We talk to them and get them the best amount of information they can have to make the best educated decisions about their education."

Before the FACE program, Farmington high schools did not host college fairs, and college recruiters showed up individually at high schools during lunch periods.

"It was not effective and not a great way to recruit," Coufal said.

From left, Farmington High School students Rachel Padilla, Chelsea Walker and Tony Taylor fill out college application forms during the second annual
From left, Farmington High School students Rachel Padilla, Chelsea Walker and Tony Taylor fill out college application forms during the second annual college fair at Farmington High School. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Coufal, the former director of admissions at San Juan College, suggested a college fair would be more effective for reaching students and parents. Now, Piedra Vista hosts a college fair in the fall, and Farmington High organizes one in the spring.

On Wednesday, Lars and Wende Baker attended the fair to look at colleges with their daughter, Ramsay Baker, in the hopes of finding a college with a good engineering program.

Ramsay, a junior at Piedra Vista High, said she wants to find a college or technology school with a small number of students. Meanwhile, her parents are starting to figure out available scholarships.

"We're just getting an idea of colleges that are available, engineering programs and scholarships that are available," Lars Baker said.

His wife added that the spring college fair helped the family start searching for colleges earlier.

"We're glad to see this one in the spring," Wende Baker said. "Otherwise, it seems late in the game now to wait until the fall because we have already done this and realize we could have a head start."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.