Category Archives: Parents

5 FAFSA Tips To Get The Most Financial Aid

As colleges get more expensive each year, students rely more frequently on financial aid to help offsets the costs of education. However, many students are making simple mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars in grants or scholarship money each year. Here are five tips to help you get the most financial aid possible.

1. Fill Out The FAFSA
One of the easiest ways to get financial aid for college is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While some students mistakenly believe that the FAFSA or CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile is only for students with extreme financial needs, this is false. All students, regardless of their economic background, should fill out the FAFSA. This application not only takes into account the income level but also the number of children in the family and how many are enrolled in college simultaneously.

Each year, more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid goes unclaimed because people do not fill out the FAFSA. While the FAFSA can be a bit tedious, it is well worth the few hours it takes to complete.

2. Submit The FAFSA Now
The FAFSA application opens on October 1, and it is beneficial to you to fill it out as soon as it opens. Many organizations that gave out larger financial packages will have early deadlines, often before the new year.

Many of these organizations operate on a “first-come, first-serve” system, and by applying early, you give yourself the best chance to earn more financial aid. You can find the full list of FAFSA deadlines on the US Department of Education’s website.

3. Complete The Right Form
Unfortunately, some people have created look-a-like websites to trick people into putting in their financial data or credit card information. Before filling out the form, check to ensure you are on fafsa.gov, which is the only official FAFSA website.

Make sure you are filling for the correct year. For example, if you are planning on enrolling in college for the 2020-2021 year, make sure you are selecting the form for that year. Filling out the form ensures you get all the financial aid you are entitled to for that school year.

4. Add ALL Your Schools
One of the biggest mistakes students make is not adding in all their schools to the FAFSA form. Initially, you can only add 10, but after you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can send the FAFSA information to all the schools. Even if you replace another school’s code with another one, it will never delete your financial information from that university’s system.

5. Finish it!
The FAFSA takes time to do, but it is well worth the struggle. In fact, a study by the NCAN (National College Access Network), found that seniors who finish the FAFSA are 63% more likely to enroll in a university than students who don’t complete the form.

Spend a few days completing the FAFSA! While it can be a complicated process, it makes college more affordable and is one of the necessary steps you should take when preparing for college.

5 Things All Parents Need to Know About the FAFSA by Kristen Moon MoonPrep.com

College is a huge investment for many families and most need a little bit of financial help. If you are looking for ways to pay for college, one of the first resources you may turn to is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Every student qualifies for some form of student aid, so make sure you are not skipping this step during your application process. Over the past couple of decades, the Department of Education has streamlined the application process, but questions can still arise. If you or your child are applying to a college, here are five essential things you need to know about the FAFSA.

  1. What is FAFSA?
    The FAFSA is an annual form filled out by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student aid. It can be filled out by undergraduate and graduate students. The FAFSA can determine your eligibility for grants such as the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEC), federal work-study programs, loans, and scholarships.
  2. What information does the FAFSA provide you with?
    The FAFSA provides you with two critical pieces of information. The first is Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is an index number that the financial aid department uses to determine how much financial aid a student would receive if you attend that particular school. The information you report on the FAFSA is used to calculate the EFC. The EFC is then calculated according to a formula established by law.The second piece of information is the Cost of Attendance (COA) which is the amount it will cost a student to go to school. Most colleges and universities will calculate a student’s COA to show the total costs of attending the school. Typically, the COA is an estimate of tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, miscellaneous expenses, childcare, disability or any reasonable costs for study-abroad programs.

     

  3. Does everyone need to complete the FAFSA?
    The short answer is, yes, you do. By not filling out the FAFSA, you are missing out on a good deal provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Students could be eligible for federal and state grants that do not to be repaid. Or they could be eligible for low-interest student loans and work-study programs, helping them to fund their education and build their resumes. Every student qualifies for some form of student aid.
  4. How do I complete the FAFSA?
    The FAFSA website is fafsa.ed.gov. Students will need their social security number, alien registration number (for non-U.S. citizens), federal income tax returns, W2s, and other records of money earned. These include bank statements and investment records, untaxed income records, and the student and parent’s FSA ID to sign the document electronically.
  5. What is the deadline?
    The deadline for the FAFSA is June 30th. The application opens October 1st, and you should complete it as soon as possible because many grants and scholarships are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Most schools have funds that are limited, so students have a better chance of receiving those funds, if eligible, when their FAFSA is submitted early.

About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one college counseling services. They guide students through the entire application process including completing the FAFSA.

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Five metrics you don’t want to miss when researching colleges

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How can I find out how safe a campus is?

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Research campus safety statistics. Federal law requires that colleges and universities disclose any crimes that have occurred on campus.

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