As second semester begins, many students begin to receive their acceptance letters and take a well-deserved breather as senioritis sets in. Don’t worry, however, there is still a lot paperwork and red tape left to explore.
FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the primary method students can apply for aid and scholarships, and one universally accepted at all domestic universities.
Although many simply believe they will not benefit and the FAFSA will be difficult to complete, the online FAFSA form has been streamlined, and many students are surprised by the aid they receive. Also if the financial information of a family has changed already having a FAFSA on record to which one can update will demonstrate this to schools.
Here’s a step-by-step list for completing the FAFSA:
- Go to fafsa.gov. Any other site advertising automatic completion of the FAFSA or asking for a credit card is a complete scam. Only go to fafsa.gov.
- Create a Federal Student Aid PIN. This PIN will be used all throughout FAFSA — so keep it safe.
- Collect all documents and records of income needed to apply. These include tax returns and W-2 forms. If tax returns for the year are not completed, estimate and update later on.
- The FAFSA must be completed between January 1 and June 30, but it is best to do it as soon as possible, as many school have financial aid deadlines beginning around March 1.
- A few days after completion, the U.S. Department of Education will send the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will include the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or the amount of money a family is expected to pay and used to determine aid eligibility.
- Particular schools may ask for other informations as well, so watch out for that. Examples include a complete CSS profile, a financial aid profile through College Board.
- Colleges and trade schools will send back aid offers composed of four different parts.
- Loans — Student loans are funds to be used for that students must pay back. Current student loan interest rate is fixed at 4.66%
- Grants — Grants are aid rewards in lump sums from schools that students are not expected to pay back. Grants are usually need-based and more akin to private schools.
- Scholarships — Scholarships are aid packages students are not expected to pay back and are award for scholastic and athletic merit.
- Work Study — Work study involves students working at the university during their studies. Students usually work as a receptionist in the gym (or related job) for the first two years, and spend the next two in their department of study this can be a excellent way to network and get to know professors.
Applying for federal student aid can be a lot less of a headache then many claim, and for most it may pay off. Direct questions to Mrs. Busby (Student Aid Counselor), your counselor or your prospective school.