The most common form of financial aid involves the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (commonly referred to as the FAFSA). This determines what assistance a college student is eligible for from the government. This is a form that each college or prospective college must fill out.
The FAFSA is required to be updated each year. Most of the questions are based off of given tax information, but it also takes other factors into consideration. Two sample things it looks at is if the student has a job and how many other college students are in the household.
To fill out the FAFSA there are a few options. The best way is to fill it out on the U.S. Department of Education’s website or get assistance from a FAFSA preparation service. This service does require a nominal fee. On the Department of Education’s website, there are many options to look at. There is a page for both student loans and grants. To get to the FAFSA application, click on loans and the application will be listed as an option. This is the easiest way to get to the FAFSA – and it’s completely free.
When applying for federal aid, it’s important to note that millions of other students are applying for it with you. They’re hoping to get as much as they can from a government loan. People would rather a government loan because the interest rate is generally lower and they’re a little easier to deal with than private loan companies, such as Sallie Mae or Discover.
This being said, it’s recommended that the FAFSA is filled out on January first of each year. This is the first day to fill It out and it’s suggested to do it immediately. Since no taxes are filed, the best way is to complete it by filling in the estimated taxes for the year. The tax estimates can be replaced to match the exact tax amount at a later date, but if the application is completed early, then more money is likely to be given to go towards the student’s education. Student aid is given out on a first come, first serve basis – including any grants that may be offered. As mentioned before, federal aid is very sought after so getting the most most money means filling out the form as early into the year as possible.
It’s not hard to do. You will submit the name your accredited college or university when you fill out the form. If the school is yet to be determined, you can enter a few schools and narrow it down when you decide.
When you fill out the form, it will also ask if you’re willing to be doing a work-study program. This means working an on campus job to help pay for your tuition. It’s a good option to contribute more money to school, but it’s also important to recognize whether you can or cannot handle a job on top of studies. Especially because there are requirements to hold a federal student loan.
For example, criteria to get or maintain a loan include the student being a legal citizen or eligible non-citizen. They must also have a social security number, avoid being in trouble with the law, and they must maintain at least a C average in their college or university. This means a 2.0 out of a 4.0 GPA must be held in order to keep federal aid.
Along with this, each school has a unique Student Academic Progress (SAP) policy, so it’s important to pay attention to the school’s criteria. For instance, if a student withdraws from too many classes, the federal aid may be taken away due to not progressing far enough or fast enough towards their degree. These requirements are important to note in order to keep the loan and renew it each year.
Another thing to look at is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The government will be expecting the family to contribute something if the parent or child is making a certain amount of income. They look to see if the parent or student has the ability to contribute money towards the education. Since the FAFSA is updated each year, the EFC is likely to change year by year. If the student or parents are not able to pay the full EFC, the government offers parent loans to parents who cannot afford their EFC or are not able to pay it up.
Overall, the FAFSA is a great place to start at when you’re looking for aid. The government can be considered a great resource. While this most likely will not pay your entire tuition, it provides a stable start.
If you are not satisfied from the financial aid from FAFSA, there are plenty of more options. Private loans and scholarships are both viable options. Many of them can be applied to in a short period of time; for instance, no essay scholarships are perfect for high volume applications. With that being said, start applying to everything you can! This includes the FAFSA, private lenders, and scholarships.