You want to get the most financial aid for college and this article will help shed a light on some of your options.
Financial aid can help fill in the gaps where your parents or personal savings cannot meet the cost of attendance. Affording college is more than paying for tuition. You’ll need to find ways to pay for room and board (if applicable), equipment, supplies, textbooks, and fees.
Table of contents
- Getting the Most Financial Aid
- Contact the Financial Aid Office
- Tips to Increase your Financial Aid Package
Getting the Most Financial Aid
Here’s what you can do to help you increase your financial aid package:
1. Submit FAFSA early
The first step is completing the FAFSA early. FAFSA stats on October 1st and earlier you apply the potential for better aid too. Even if you think you won’t get any financial aid, file anyway.
2. Prove accurate information
Make sure to submit the most accurate financial information. Many schools offer aid based on financial need. If there are changes to your financial situation or dependency status, correct your FAFSA with the school’s financial aid office. Provide any supplemental details in writing to explaining your circumstances.
3. File taxes soon
Financial aid is based on information from your filed tax returns. You’ll be required to provide tax return information from the previous year, but if your income has changed, it may benefit you to file taxes (or your parents’ taxes) early the following year. Then submit the new tax filing information to the financial aid office.
4. Enlist the help of an accountant
Find an accountant that specializes in college financing and FAFSA. They may help you and your parent understand how income, assets, and dependants can impact your financial aid package.
Contact the Financial Aid Office
From personal experience, the Financial Aid Offices can be a challenging department. They get hundreds if not thousands of students asking for more aid. Getting frustrated won’t help your cause but having a plan and being patient and persistent can go a long way.
For students who are sought by top tier schools, you could show the financial aid offered by that school and see if something can be done to match the aid. And remember to complete FAFSA for each academic year you need financial aid. This also means you’ll be dealing with the Financial Aid Office for 4 years or more.
Tips to Increase your Financial Aid Package
Here are a few more things you can do:
Ask for a reassessment
Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, the document determines your eligibility for student aid at the federal, state, and school. If there are changes to your economic situation, such as a parent lost their job or medical disability, explain the new circumstance to the financial aid officer. Make sure you have the documentation to support your new claim.
Explain money issues outside of FAFSA
FAFSA is a snapshot of your parents’ or legal guardians’ financial standing. But it may leave a few important details out such as taking care of an ill grandparent, bankruptcy, or any other situation that couldn’t be reported on FAFSA. Share the information.
Speak openly and candidly to the financial aid officer
Don’t get angry or adversarial. That’ll get you into the ignore pile. Ask about other ways of increasing your financial aid through work-study programs. It can be frustrating dealing with the department and they may seem uncooperative and inattentive to your needs. Most officers are assigned to specific students but that doesn’t mean you can’t request to speak to someone else. Just have a detailed timeline and issues that can support your request.
Ask about scholarships or grants even if you didn’t qualify originally
Many scholarships are offered to students who end up going to another school. This leaves that scholarship available for another student. In addition, to seeking scholarships offered by the college, do your own scholarship hunt. And do it throughout your entire college life.
Have any other suggestions or tips to increase financial assistance for college?