5 Quick Tips You Should Know and Consider When Applying for Financial Aid:

Happy New Year!

When January 1st rolls around, it means its financial aid season again!

January 1st of every year is the time that the FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) form is made available to apply for federal financial aid. For incoming freshman the school year is 2015-2016. The application is available online and using the web based application is recommended for quicker processing.

As is the case in most years, there have been a few updates to the FAFSA and the way it will be processed including a Clarified Definition of a Parent − Clarified Definition of Separated Parents, − Academic Competitiveness Grant and changes to the (ACG) and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) and a few more. For details go to Federal Aid Site for Students and Parents

5 Tips:

1. Truly consider colleges based on how they will be valuable to you as a student and for your career in the future. Avoid selecting colleges solely based on the price. Few students ever pay the full cost of attendance and the financial aid system is still one from which many students really can benefit. With that said, the community colleges are a fantastic two year option to get a quality educational start then transfer to a 4 year college for the last two years. Through the introduction of increased options in dual admission and dual enrollment, transferring now presents many more opportunities for students to not lose credits in transfer.

2. Consider what your budget might be in addition to books and school supplies. Think about the number of times you will need to travel from school to home and back again. Consider personal expenses including eye glasses/ contacts, other personal hygiene items, entertainment, telephone/ cell phone, food, etc. Now determine from where you will get income. Is there savings that you can tap into or will you have income from a job?

3. Every college and university has their own deadline for financial aid. Check with each college to learn the deadline by which your FAFSA and other financial aid documents should be submitted. While not all colleges go by these dates, the common dates are January 15, February 1, February 15, March 1, March 15 and April 15. For more information on deadlines go to: Higher Ed Deadlines

4. Colleges and Universities have different forms and procedures that they require to apply for financial aid. Again, check with each college to learn which forms you should complete and what procedures to follow. Common forms include:

  • FAFSA- Free Application for Federal Student Aid used to apply for federal aid -from the US Dept. of Education.

  • CSS Profile - used by some colleges that need additional information not found on the FAFSA - from College Board

  • MPN - Master Promissory Note - loan application only completed once ever to apply for federal direct loans.

  • Verification Forms - used by the colleges to verify information submitted by the students applying for federal aid

  • Institutional Form - Some colleges and universities have their own form that must be completed in addition to the FAFSA and /or the Profile forms.

5. Get serious about Scholarships. Spend at least an hour a day searching for Scholarships. The goal should be to use scholarships to offset the need for increased loans. Here are the scholarship sites that I have reviewed for ease of use and valuable and updated scholarship information:

  • Educationplanner.org, Scholarships.com, Scholarshipexperts.com, cappex.org and collegeboard.org

Good Luck! Happy Financial Aid Season!

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