Financial aid is given from the college, from the government, or through scholarships from businesses, employers, and private parties. The majority of full-time undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid. Do not assume that you will not qualify, and everyone qualifies for scholarships, though these take work to find. Financial aid comes in several forms: loans, work study, grants, and scholarships. Awards are based on merit and financial need. Student loans are called Stafford loans. These are subsidized (interest deferred until grad), unsubsidized means interest starts as soon as you borrow.
You should start saving for college as early as possible. You can start researching scholarships during Junior year. Applications for financial aid are typically filed Senior year, October through February. Research each college's deadlines and be sure to meet them. Applying to colleges early puts you in a better position to receive aid.
- Understand how each college decides how much to charge each family; college pricetags are meaningless
- When exploring ways to reduce the cost of college, look at Federal, State and private scholarships, and at the average merit aid package from each college itself
- Remember to see what is included in cost of attendance; it differs from school to school (e.g. books, room and board, food etc.)
- It’s ALWAYS wise to save for college
- You can ask colleges for more FA after you receive your award
- If you have a talent then look at talent/athletic scholarships
- Look into geographic/race/gender diversity schools (schools that are interested in having kids from different areas)
- Net Price Calculators = cost after scholarships/grants
- The EFC only calculates your eligibility for Need Based Aid.
- The NPC incorporates both Need Based Aid and Merit Based Aid.
- Divorced parents:
- FAFSA only asks for custodial parents (the parent that you spend 50% of time residing with)
- FAFSA does not compute home equity
- PROFILE asks for both parents’ salaries and equity
- Check for PROFILE schools that do not ask for non-custodial parent salary!
- If you don't have a Social Security number, you can pick up an application for one at any post office. For more information about applying for a Social Security number, call 1-800-772-1213.
Timeline for Financial Aid
- Junior Year - Begin to research scholarships.
- Senior year, October - I any of your colleges require the CSS/Financial aid PROFILE form for Early Action or Early Decision applicants, file that at collegeboard.com.
- January - Have your parents file their taxes as soon as possible because you will need them to file the FAFSA form for all government aid.
- January - File the FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov. List each college you applied to.
- January - If your colleges require the PROFILE, which determines institutional aid and scholarships, be sure to submit that by their requested deadline. collegeboard.com
- February - If you have any special financial considerations not listed on your FAFSA, be sure to inform each of your colleges so that they can take them into account before they create your Award letter.
- March - Within 4-6 weeks of filing the FAFSA, you will receive the Student Aid Report (SAR) which lists your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). All of the colleges you listed on your application will also receive this information. Check the SAR carefully for errors and inform colleges if you find any.
- March-April - You will receive financial aid award letters from each college showing what they will award you in terms of loans, grants, and work-study. You can compare your awards using the online comparison tool at collegeboard.com. Always contact the college's financial aid office if you have any questions or concerns about the award letter, and to ask them if it is possible to receive more.
- By May 1st - Decide which college you want to attend. Notify all schools of your choice by phone or in writing. You are not required to accept all the financial aid a school offers you. Remember, though, that all loans must be repaid. You can always accept, reduce, or decline the aid offered.
- May-September - If you need it, apply for any supplemental financial aid to cover educational costs. You can apply for government and bank loans.
Myths about Financial Aid
|Private scholarships are the biggest source of financial aid||
|Saving for college will hurt my financial aid package||
|We make too much to qualify||
|Expensive schools cost more; state schools are cheaper||
|Only wealthy students can afford to go to college||
- fafsa.ed.gov - Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- pin.ed.gov - Federal Student Aid PIN - Every student and one parent needs a pin. The student's pin will differ from the parent's pin.
- salliemae.com - Student Loans
- finaid.org - Financial Aid and Scholarship Database
- fastweb.com - Scholarship Search
- college.gov - Tips on how to pay for college
- maldef.org - Scholarship Resources for Undocumented Latino Students
- washboard.org - Scholarship Search
- wiche.edu - Western Interstate Commission For Higher Education
- thecollegesolution.com - Blog by Lynn O'Shaughnessy
- finaid.ucsb.edu - 7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA
Estimated Family Contribution Calculator
Go to collegeboard.com. Enter "Calculators" in the search field and the first calculator displayed will help you calculate what colleges will expect your family to contribute toward your education each year.