Posts Tagged ‘FAFSA’
Financial aid is a wonderful resource that you can use to get yourself through school. Whether you absolutely need large loans or choose to apply for small scholarships here and there, it is important to know the major differences between your financial aid options. Here are some key points to keep in mind when comparing financial aid options:
- Scholarships are usually awarded to students based on merit or an application process.
- It is typically a fixed amount of money granted for the student to use towards his or her studies. The student does not need to repay this money.
- Sometimes the funds are given directly to the student to use as he or she deems necessary. Other times – usually when a university provides the scholarship – students can only access funds through their student account. This varies depending on the organization donating the scholarship money.
- Applications vary greatly for each scholarship. Most require written essays and academic transcripts.
- An important element to remember about scholarships is that they are not necessarily based on financial need. Many scholarships are available to students based on their academic performance and application, as opposed to income.
- Some scholarships include perks like membership to the donating organization or post-graduate career assistance.
- Loans come with more responsibility post-graduation than scholarships because students are borrowing money, not being given a fixed amount.
- The amount a student can borrow depends on his or her education level (undergraduate vs. graduate) and dependency status (independent vs. dependent).
- The borrowed money must be repaid after graduation. Interest rates are applied during the repayment period, which often begins six to twelve months after graduation.
- While loans are most frequently subsidized (funded) by the Federal Government, private loans do exist.
- Any student wishing to receive loans from the government must fill out a Master Promissory Note, essentially a legal contract that binds students to repaying their loans.
- Students wishing to obtain loans must fill out the government FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.
- You can borrow money regardless of your income or your parent’s income; you are only excluded from these government loans if you’ve been unable to pay them back in the past or have been convicted of drug offenses.
What Is The FAFSA?
FAFSA, which stands for the Free Application For Federal Student Aid, is a required application for college-bound high school seniors and current college students. In order to qualify for financial aid, students are required to fill out this application. As of January 1st, 2014 the FAFSA is available to fill out and submit for the 2014 – 2015 school year. But what does the FAFSA encompass? Keep reading!
Five Categories of FAFSA
The FAFSA requests information in five categories. Before you begin, grab your social security card (unless you memorized the number), your driver’s license (if you have one), bank statements or investment records, untaxed income documents, your most recent tax return, and then ask your parent’s to bring all of the same things.
1. Student Demographics: Basically, the FAFSA needs all of your personal information. Make sure to triple check it for accuracy!
2. School Selection: You will be asked to input your high school’s basic information. If you already know what college you’re going to attend or if you’re already enrolled in college, you will be asked to enter their basic information as well.
3. Dependency Status: If you have special circumstances (e.g. deceased parents or if you were adopted), this is where you will make those circumstances known.
4. Parents Demographics: This section will ask for your parent or guardian’s email address, marital status, and how many people live in your household. Make sure to get the correct information from your parent or guardian because these answers may affect how much money you will receive from financial aid.
5. Financial Information: In the last section, you will have to input your parent or guardian’s tax information to complete the FAFSA.
How To Apply For FAFSA
Visit this website to apply for the 2014 – 2015 FAFSA online, or you can apply through mail with a printed paper copy. Applying online is recommended and preferred by FAFSA because it processes immediately and assists with spelling errors. The application should take around an hour to complete, but you will have the option to save it and return to it later – but make sure you finish it!
If you’re still struggling a bit with all the forms, visit this page for additional assistance and resources.
Attention high school students: your guidance counselor can be a great resource in your college application process. As a large part of a guidance counselor’s job is helping seniors get into college, they can usually give you answers to every question you might have, or have the connections to find the information you need to know. When you do meet with your counselor, it is important to be prepared with questions to help the appointment run smoothly and ensure you cover all the bases to make yourself an ideal applicant.
1. What core classes do I need to take?
College admissions offices like to see a certain number of years of core classes on your high school transcript. When starting your college search, it will be very helpful to know what the admissions team may be looking for. Some colleges only consider applicants who have studied a foreign language, have four years of English classes, or have an array of AP classes on their transcript, among other requirements. Knowing what you need will influence what classes you register for in your senior year and help you pick your reach, target and safety schools.
2. Where can I look for financial aid?
Your guidance counselor will have very valuable information on the different financial aid options including FAFSA grants and other scholarships you may qualify for. Cappex is also a great resource for researching college scholarships.
3. What information do you need for my recommendation?
Many universities require one or two recommendations from teachers or guidance counselors, and if you go to a big high school, you may not know your guidance counselor on a more personal level. To make sure you get the best recommendations possible, ask your guidance counselor what would be helpful to know about you that they can’t find on your transcript, including clubs, sports teams or other organizations you may be affiliated with, community service projects you’ve completed, awards you’ve won, or your future education goals.
4. How does our school compare to others with test scores and reputation?
Depending on where your high school ranks with test scores, AP classes offered and other indicators, you may have a better or average chance of getting accepted to a certain college. Knowing more about your school’s reputation will help you get a more accurate feel of how this affects your admissions chances.
5. Are there any college fairs nearby?
Your guidance counselor will have important information on local college fairs and which ones you should attend to meet with representatives from your prospective colleges. Some high schools also host their own college fairs and invite university representatives to come from colleges that have historically been popular with your school’s students.
After researching, choosing, and applying for a scholarship, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself! Then, gear up to receive results and take the next step in your journey to college education. The good news? No matter what the results, Cappex is here to help.
- Check to see if there is a way to track the status of your application. There might be a timeline offered by the organization to track the application process.
- Find out how the organization will notify you with results. If it’s through email, be sure to check your email (and keep an eye on that pesky Spam folder) regularly. If it’s through the US Postal Service, be sure you don’t throw out any mail that might pertain to your scholarship.
- Don’t bank on one scholarship – continue researching your options to maximize your chances of earning college funds.
Results: The Good
- Congratulations! You’ve won a scholarship!
- If you don’t know already, find out how the funds will reach you. Will it be through a check or through your university? Make sure you know how and when the scholarship will be applied so you can track the transactions.
- You basically have a first draft of a college essay written. Cool! Use it on your college applications when it is relevant.
- Start budgeting and planning how you can use your funding most effectively. If the scholarship can be applied anywhere, decide what works best for you financially.
- Try to calculate what you will still owe after using your scholarship money. Then, apply for more scholarships!
Results: The Bad
- Don’t freak out if you didn’t win the first few scholarships for which you applied. This is totally normal – you’re not going to win them all.
- Keep looking. Keep digging. Keep asking and researching opportunities. Talk to your guidance counselor if you are having trouble. They may have some secret weapons and places to look.
- Ask the organization that denied your application for notes on why you were not accepted. They might be able to offer good advice on your writing skills. It also might be reassuring to know that they just had too many applicants this year and it was only a matter of numbers.
- Don’t give up! Try filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if you have not already.
The most important thing to remember is that time spent on scholarships is time well spent. They are terrific opportunities with many benefits. You gain experience and the good feeling of working hard towards something special – your college years!
If you plan on filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may be interested in a more active means of earning money towards your education. The Federal Work Study Program (FWS) may be the right move for you!
Who: The Federal Work Study Program is available to undergraduate and graduate students who qualify for financial aid. International or foreign students usually do not qualify for this program.
What: Students work part-time to help pay for their education. The money the student makes working is applied to the cost of classes, room and board, and supplies. At the very least, students earn federal minimum wage hourly. Often schools take into consideration the student’s area of study when accepting them for FWS and assigning a job.
Where: About 3,400 colleges and universities in the United States participate in the Federal Work Study Program.
How: Each participating college or university is given funding to supply to students in the FWS Program. The jobs available for students will vary depending on the institution. Many jobs are directly associated with the college or university, but there is a requirement that jobs through private employers in the local community be made available as well. In fact, 7% of the jobs available to students must be community service positions. Common jobs include administrative work in campus offices or tutoring children at neighboring schools.
Each school does have different restrictions on how it gives its students their earned funds. Additionally, some schools have a specific number of hours the FWS Program students must work. It is possible that if you are participating in the FWS Program and your grade point average falls below a certain number you will no longer be eligible for funding. If you receive financial aid from another source, that may change how much FWS aid you can get. Check with your school to find out exactly what restrictions it has on FWS students.
If you are interested in joining the FWS Program, be sure to indicate this on your FAFSA form! But keep in mind that sometimes the deadline for requesting to be part of FWS comes before the FAFSA deadline. Apply as early as possible to increase your chances of being accepted to this program and guarantee funding for your education. The colleges and universities involved have a limited amount of funding to use for students in the FWS Program.
By filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), prospective and current students can deduce their eligibility to receive help from the government to pay for their higher education. There are several different grants, loans, and programs that can be awarded to help students pay for their higher education. If you are a student who requires financial aid, you might receive a Pell Grant. What exactly is a Pell Grant? Let’s break it down.
Who: Pell Grants are available to undergraduate students who have not yet earned their Bachelor’s degree and do not currently owe money towards any other student loans.
What: These grants do not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are often used as the foundation to a student’s financial aid; additional forms of aid can be applied along with Pell Grants. As of July 1, 2012 the maximum amount a student can receive for one award year is $5,500; students can continue to receive aid up to 12 semesters. The amount awarded per year varies depending on the EFC (Expected Family Contribution as calculated by the FAFSA), the cost of the institution, and whether or not the recipient plans to attend full-time or part-time.
The scheduled award is the max amount of money a student receives in one award year (July 1st – June 30th). You may not use 100% of this scheduled award amount each year if you are a part-time student. If this is the case, it’s possible that the leftover percentage can be applied to subsequent semesters until you reach the full 600% you’ve been given. The 600% comes from the 12 semester maximum; each semester accounts for 50% of your scheduled award.
Where: There are roughly 5,400 colleges and universities where you can use a Pell Grant.
How: Schools can either apply the funds directly to the student’s costs or pay the student by check. Sometimes, colleges and universities will utilize a combination of these two methods. Either way, the school must outline in writing how they plan on paying the student, the amount the student will receive with each payment, and when the payments will be made. Schools must pay the student once per term. Basically, if your school is on a semester schedule, each semester you should receive a Pell Grant payment. If for some reason your school does not have a semester, trimester or quarter system, you will receive payments twice per year.
When: Applications begin rolling in on January 1st for that year’s academic school year. So, if you need financial aid beginning in September of 2013, you can send in your FAFSA on or after January 1, 2013. Remember that the funds are limited and given out on a first come, first serve basis. Deadlines for FAFSA submissions vary by state. Double check with your academic adviser to find out your state’s FAFSA deadline. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to two months for your application to be processed!
Learn about more ways to find money for college at Cappex.
In your collegiate quest for financial aid, you will find that there are several different loans and grants you can receive after filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). If you are in dire financial need, you may be eligible for a Perkins Loan. How is this particular loan different from other student loans? Let’s break it down.
Who: Perkins Loans are available to full-time and part-time graduate and undergraduate students. Usually recipients of Perkins Loans have a greater need for financial assistance than recipients of Stafford Loans.
What: Perkins Loans are fixed rate loans based on student need. The fixed interest rate on these loans is 5%. Perkins Loans are subsidized loans, which means the student does not pay interest while enrolled in school.
Unlike Stafford Loans, students have a grace period of 9 months after graduation or withdrawal to begin repayment. After repayment begins, the student has 10 years to pay back the entire loan to their college or university. Note: Perkins Loan recipients repay their loan directly to their school.
Where: There are about 1,700 schools that have access to Perkins funds. Some colleges and universities can offer more aid to students than others, so check with each institution to see what their limits may be. (Keep in mind that if you transfer to another school, your funding may change.)
How: To receive a Perkins Loan, students must fill out the FAFSA.
With Perkins Loans, the student’s school combines federal funding with its own funds to pay the student directly – either in the form of a check or by depositing money into a student account – twice per academic year. The school must notify the student in writing when this deposit occurs.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you qualify for a Perkins Loan, fill out the FAFSA and an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be calculated for you. This measures the amount you and/or your family will be able to provide towards your secondary education. Depending on this number, federal aid will be awarded to you. When in doubt, discuss your options with your academic adviser and check Cappex for more information on scholarships and financial aid packages!
After you submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you may become eligible for one of several financial aid options. The Stafford Loan is the most common type of government aid for students. So, what is it and how does it work? Let’s break it down:
Who: Stafford Loans are available to undergraduate or graduate students who are enrolled in school at least part-time. While it doesn’t matter if your credit is good or bad, you just can’t be in default on a previous loan.
What: A Stafford Loan is a fixed rate federal loan. Fixed rate means that the interest rate on your loan does not change. These are the most common student loans and some of the least expensive ways to pay for school. Based on your need as calculated by the FAFSA, you will be awarded either a subsidized or an unsubsidized loan.
- Subsidized = the government pays your loan interest when you are enrolled in school. As of July 1, 2012, subsidized Stafford Loans have a low fixed interest rate of 3.4% and are not available for graduate students.
- Unsubsidized = you pay your loan interest. Interest starts building up at a fixed 6.8% as soon as your school receives funds. Even though you don’t have to pay the interest while you are in school, it will grow and then be added to the total loan amount when you are done with school. Then you’ll start paying interest on that interest. So, its in your best interest to pay as you go!
Where: Most colleges and universities accept Stafford Loans. Check with your academic adviser if you are uncertain.
When: Each college and university has a different deadline for financial aid submissions or notifications. Check with yours to make sure you don’t miss it.
How: To be approved for federal financial aid, you must fill out the FAFSA. The amount of money you are allowed to borrow each year is limited and may change; you need to renew your FAFSA every year and re-apply for a Stafford Loan. Funds are deposited directly into your student account twice per year, usually in the fall and winter semesters.
After you graduate – or are no longer a part-time or full-time student – you have a 6 month span of time called a grace period. During this time you do not need to make any payments on your loan, but you have the option to do so. After that grace period, you’ll need to start your monthly payments. You have 10 years to pay back your loans and any interest accumulated.
Finally, you will have to participate in a Stafford Loan Exit Counseling Session. Basically, you’ll need to prove that you have either completed school or are no longer in school. You’ll receive information on how to pay back your loans at this session.
What is FAFSA?
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form that you can submit each year to assess your eligibility for financial aid. When you fill out a FAFSA, you are basically submitting yourself for consideration to receive Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, or a Federal Work-Study Program.
FAFSA evaluates your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) using a series of about 130 questions. The questions pertain to your dependency status, your and your parents’ income, and your assets. Your EFC measures your ability to pay for your education. The lower your EFC, the greater your chances might be for receiving financial aid. EFC scores range from 0 to 99,999; as of July 1, 2012 you automatically receive an EFC of 0 if your family’s income is no higher than $23,000 per year.
What do I need to fill out a FAFSA?
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s license or state ID
- W-2 Forms (If you don’t have these forms yet, estimate with your pay stubs and file a correction later.)
- Previous year’s Federal Income Tax Return
- Your parent’s previous year’s Federal Income Tax Return (If you are a dependent.)
- Your untaxed income records
- Current bank statements
- Alien registration or permanent residence card (If you are not a U.S. citizen.)
- FAFSA PIN (This PIN , or personal identification number, will serve as your electronic signature on your FAFSA. It will let you log in to apply for financial aid and access your past aid records. If you are filing as a dependent, your parents will need their own PIN. Visit the Federal Student Aid PIN site to set up PINs.)
All of the financial information you put into your FAFSA needs to be from the previous year. For example, if you are applying for the 2013 academic school year, you need to supply all of your financial information from 2012 on your FAFSA.
FAFSA does not ask about your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or any disabilities. All you need is financial info and records.
Keep in mind that federal aid via the FAFSA is awarded on a first come, first serve basis. Applications are accepted beginning on January 1st for the upcoming school year. So, if you know you will need to fill out a FAFSA for the 2013 school year, get in gear now! Ask your parents now for their financial information so they have time to gather their paperwork and create a PIN.
Who can submit a FAFSA?
Prospective and current college or graduate students. As of July 1, 2012 you must have a high school diploma or an approved substitute like a GED or home-school education to complete a FAFSA.
How can I submit a FAFSA?
- Online via the U.S. Department of Education website. This is the recommended route because you can easily update information and submit renewals.
- Printing a PDF of the FAFSA and mailing it in.
Financial aid and the FAFSA can be confusing when there are terms flying right and left. Take your time and make sure you fill out your FAFSA correctly. If you start now and take a look at the form, you’ll be ready to apply come January 1st. But don’t wait too long! Be proactive and you’ll thank yourself later.
Visit Cappex for learn more about financial aid for college!
Financial Aid Definitions:
According to the dictionary: Money to support a worthy person or cause.
According to a high school council: Government loans you’ll be expected to pay back with interest upon graduation.
According to a recent college graduate: The reason I can’t sleep.
According to a high school senior: The topic of that boring presentation I was texting the entire way through…
Perspectives on financial aid are about as plentiful as college majors. They can range from knowing nothing on the subject at all, to consuming your brain like that continual nightmare where you show up to class stark naked.
The topic may seem intimidating, coming from serious-looking people in suits, armed with paperwork and a no-nonsense powerpoint. Or, it may seem daunting coming from your high school social studies teacher who announced to the class that he’s just finished paying off his loans. (OMG…what is he, 30?) Even the term “financial aid” sounds heavy with importance. But, if you arm yourself with a full understanding of what financial aid is and how it works, you’ll find it less scary, and you won’t be surprised six months after graduation when you receive your first bill. Here’s a quick overview to set you on the path of becoming a Master of Financial Aid.
What is Financial Aid, Really? The term financial aid in the college setting typically refers to government programs such as federal loans, grants, and work-study positions, but it can also refer to private loans and scholarships. Eligibility for financial aid often depends on financial need. This money can be used for tuition and other school related expenses such as textbooks.
Stafford Loans: Stafford loans are the most common type of federal loan. They have lower interest rates than private loans, and don’t require payments to be made until students drop below half-time, or have been out of school for six months. Stafford loans can be subsidized or unsubsidized.
Subsidized: The government pays the interest while you’re in school, and for the six month grace period after you’ve left school or graduated.
Unsubsidized: You’re responsible for the interest you’ve accumulated during school and your grace period.
How to Apply: The first step in the financial aid process is applying by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This assessment will determine your need for government assistance. It is advised that this form be completed upon its availability for the upcoming academic semesters, as government funds are issued on a first come, first serve, basis.
Next Steps: If you qualify for financial aid, it is up to you to determine if you want to borrow all that is offered. Remember, everything you borrow must be paid back, and then some. While “after I graduate” might seem like lightyears away from now, the time will come quicker than you think. Keep track of how much you’re borrowing.
If you don’t qualify for financial aid, but still need assistance, don’t be discouraged. You can still look into private loans and scholarships!
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