Financial Aid can be a confusing process with many questions that go unanswered. The purpose of this post is to inform you on how financial aid works and what you should be prepared for.
Know what you can afford – Before you even start applying for financial aid, know what you can afford. If your parents are going to help you, see what they are going to contribute. If you’re going to put some money toward your college classes, put that into consideration. After you figure out how much you’re going to get personally, see what the difference is and this is what you’ll need for financial aid money.
Don’t wait – If you know what school you’re going to, that’s great. See what the deadline is for your school to submit all of your financial aid information. Every school will differ, they all aren’t the same. If you wait til the last second, you may find out that you were too late for the school year.
Know when to file – Financial Aid is available online on different dates according to the state you’re applying in. Refer to the FAFSA schedule if you’re confused about an issue. 99% of the time you’re going to have to use the state your parents live in. You’ll find that it’s near impossible to become an independent resident. It’s worth a shot but you’ll most likely get denied.
Check with your college – Some colleges will require that you apply with them as well as the government. Make sure you ask your college admissions office to see what the requirements are when you apply.
Save all paperwork- Everything you fill out that’s financial aid related, make sure that you save all of the information just in case something goes bad. You’ll also need all of this for tax reasons as well. A great way to organize it is to simply throw it in a manila folder and put it in a filing cabinet.
Know your payments – Some students make the mistake of applying for aid and find out later that they can’t afford the payments. Use calculators online that can give you an idea on how much you’re going to pay, so that when your bills start rolling in, you won’t be surprised.
Financial Aid is just a stepping stone when it comes to financing your college classes. Make sure you know what you’re going to pay in the future and what you can afford today. Follow a few of these steps and it should help guide your financial aid process a little easier.