7 Steps To College Financial Aid

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Applying for financial aid should be something that every student does, no matter what their family’s ability to pay for college might be. Even affluent families can find shelling out $45-50,000 or more annually for tuition and related expenses to be quite a hit, especially if no aid is forthcoming.

These days students are not only encouraged, but expected to apply for financial aid, given the high cost of college education and the myriad number of ways in which aid Financial Aidis awarded. So, to get started we’ve outlined seven steps that prospective students should take to get the financial aid train rolling down the track:

1. Apply to School – Financial aid cannot be awarded until you apply and are accepted to a college in the first place. Only when you are fully accepted (not provisionally) will you be able to complete the steps which follow.

2. Apply for Financial Aid — Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will determine financial aid eligibility, but before you can apply you must first obtain a personal identification number (PIN) from www.pin.ed.gov. Both the student and one parent must have a PIN in order to complete the FAFSA.

Your PIN is important, something that you will need throughout the financial aid process. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you follow all signature requirements which can delay your application if signatures are not completed. You’ll be filling out a pre-application worksheet before you submit your FAFSA.

3. Submit the FAFSA – Visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ and submit your FAFSA. Double check your federal tax forms before applying. Make certain that you enter the school’s correct Title IV institutional code onto the form, otherwise you could delay your application.

4. Receive your SAR – About one month after submitting your FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the U.S. Department of Education. Review your SAR for accuracy; follow the instructions on how to make changes if mistakes are found. Your school will receive a copy of your SAR about the same time as you receive your information.

5. Obtain Your Financial Award Letter – Your college will review your SAR and send to you a financial award letter which will outline your complete financial aid package.

6. Apply For Stafford Loan – If your financial aid package sufficiently provides what you need to pay for college, then you’re all set. Otherwise, if you fall short, you can apply for a federal Stafford loan, a type of student loan managed by the federal government. Visit http://www.hesaa.org/index.php?page=apply-now-for-federal-stafford-and-plus-loans to apply today. Also, consider various private student loan options to help you pay for college.

7. Set Up A Loan Entrance Review – Before starting school, your college will contact you to set up an appointment to review loan documentation. This conversation will discuss funds awarded, distribution, and review of other financing options you may want to consider.

Financial aid can spell the difference between attending college or going without a degree, therefore applying for assistance is critical to help you learn how much of your college costs will be covered by your school as well as discovering what your personal share of these costs will be.

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Categories: FAFSA Form Tips, Finance