You have the option to pay for college out of your own pocket through earned income or savings. Many students need help in the form of financial aid. Financial aid is money that comes from the federal or state government, a college or private organizations and companies. To get federal and most state aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and additional forms for other types of aid.
The process to apply for aid is fairly simple but requires an attention to detail and adherence to meeting deadlines. Most students qualify for some type of financial aid and you won’t know what you qualify for until you apply. Apply for federal or state aid cost nothing.
The best approach to receive the most financial aid for college is to be prepared. Following the tips and suggestions below can help increase your chances of getting aid.
- Keep a calendar with all deadlines for required tests, admissions and financial aid can ensure you meet all requirements on time. Having a visual aid such as a large calendar can help remind you of key important dates.
- Review the information on FAFSA before completing the application. This will help you understand the information and documents you’ll need to complete the application accurately. Complete FAFSA as soon as you can to meet the federal, state and school’s deadlines.
- Inquire with the colleges about any additional applications that must be completed to qualify for state or college aid. This will ensure you complete all necessary applications to receive all types of aid available.
- Ask about aid that is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to prioritize applying for this aid.
- Know when your school will notify you about its financial aid offer. Make note of it on your calendar and reach out to the college if you have not heard from them before or on that date.
- Look for scholarships on your college’s website or through other sources. Find out from the financial aid office if receiving outside scholarships will affect your school’s financial aid award.
- Find out if scholarships you receive are guaranteed for each of your school year or just one year. You may need to reapply each year.
- Research your state’s financial aid program. If you live and plan to attend a state school, explore your state’s program for scholarships, grants and in-state loan programs.