Well, rest assured! There are many different funding opportunities to choose from, including scholarships, grants, and loans. In this article, you will learn more about different financial aid options for your student, and information regarding the FAFSA and CSS Profile Financial Aid forms.
TYPES OF AID
Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for college. You don’t have to repay scholarship funds, so there’s no financial burden after you graduate. Scholarships are awarded by the government, schools, and private organizations.
Encourage your child to maximize any available free money to help pay for college. There’s information and a free scholarship search at: StudentAid.gov/scholarships.
Grants are very similar to scholarships. Grants usually don’t require any kind of repayment, and students typically qualify for grant awards based on financial need, merit, or some other eligibility criteria. When you submit your FAFSA, you’ll automatically find out if you qualify for a need-based federal Pell Grant.
Student loans allow you to borrow funds to cover the costs of higher education. Unlike other financing options, you must repay funds received through student loans. While repayment is a significant drawback, student loans also are a vital financial aid tool for many students. It can be quite challenging to fund all of your college expenses with only scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Remember that your college costs include not only tuition but also textbooks, fees, and necessary living expenses. These total costs often result in a gap between your award funds and actual college expenses, requiring most students to use family resources or take out student loans. Students who need loans should first look to federal loans. Federal loans are need-based and have a much lower interest rate than private loans.
DETERMINING FINANCIAL NEED
A great tool to use to see if your family will qualify for any aid and to see if any loans will be provided is to use the College Board’s net price calculator. Below is a way to calculate your net price to attend a specific college.
If a student’s school is not listed on the net price calculator, then you may calculate how much money you may receive by determining your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). To do this, visit the FAFSA4caster at:
Cost of Attendance (COA) – (EFC) = Financial need-based aid
COA- Financial Award (scholarships) = Non-need based aid ( to include loans: unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans)
2 TYPES OF FINANCIAL AID FORMS
Parents can begin filling out the FAFSA as soon as January 1st!
Keep in mind that aid is available on a first come first serve basis!
Understand who counts as a parent for purposes of filling out the FAFSA.StudentAid.gov/fafsa-parent shares the definition of “legal parent” and discusses which parent’s information should be reported on the FAFSA when the legal parents are divorced or separated and not living together.
You and your child should get FSA IDs. An FSA ID is a username and password that you’ll be using to sign the FAFSA. You and your child each need your own FSA ID—and you each need to create your own for privacy purposes and because the information is easier to remember if you create your own. (Note: Only one of a student’s parents needs to sign the student’s FAFSA, so only one parent needs an FSA ID.)
Add schools in alphabetical order, this way it won’t show colleges any preference.
You can only add 10 schools at a time. You will need to submit, receive a confirmation email and then log back in and submit the next few schools if your student has applied to more than 10 colleges.
Documents to Gather Ahead of Time
You and your child will each need to gather these documents in preparation for the FAFSA:
Parent Social Security number and student’s social security number
Parent’s 2015 federal income tax returns, W-2s, and/or other records of money earned. (Note: If you don’t have your 2015 tax returns, then estimate with your 2014 tax returns. You can later update this information once you receive your 2015 tax return).
Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
An FSA ID to sign electronically (previously called a PIN)
The FAFSA is your child’s application, so keep in mind when it says “you,” it means “you, the student.”
On or after January 1st, visit: https://fafsa.ed.gov/
2. CSS Profile
The Profile is a financial aid form used by several private colleges that request additional financial information or school specific forms. If parents are divorced, some colleges require students to complete a non-custodial form. It is best to look on each college’s financial aid page to see their financial aid deadlines and the type of financial aid forms needed. If one of your student’s schools needs a Profile to be completed, then you can register online through the college board account. If your student has a Collegeboard account already, then you can log in with their account information: https://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile
Questions? Reach out to My Pathway to College to answer any questions or to receive additional resources.
~Information obtained from collegescholarships.org and studentaid.gov.ed~