Posts Tagged ‘FAFSA’

Scholarships vs. Student Loans

MoneyFinancial 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.

Student Loans

  • 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 year in school (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior), degree level (undergraduate vs. graduate) and dependency status (independent vs. dependent).
  • The borrowed money must be repaid after graduation. If you have subsidized federal loans, you’re required to pay interest after the grace period which is typically six to 12 months after graduation. For unsubsidized loans, you’ll be required to pay back interest accumulated since you took out the loan.
  • While some loans are administered by the Federal Government, private loans do exist.
  • Students interested in receiving federal student loans must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • You can borrow money regardless of your income or your parent’s income. However, you will be excluded from these government loans if you’ve been unable to pay them back in the past or have been convicted of drug offenses. Failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress, maintain at least half-time status, or register with Selective Service can also render you ineligible for federal student loans.

Comments: No Comments »

Ready, Set, FAFSA!


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

FAFSA Home Page

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.

Image sources:

Comments: No Comments »

5 Questions for Your Guidance Counselor

5 Questions for Your Guidance Counselor


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.