Financial Aid Information
The financial aid application process is not easy to navigate (even for seasoned counselors!) and constantly changing to make things more complicated. Come financial aid application time, you probably see many students confused or concerned about not only the funding they’re eligible for but even where to begin. Students should know they have options when it comes to finding the funding they need to pay for college and that they shouldn’t bank on one source of funding when applying for financial aid.
We’ve prepared a number of resources to help you guide students through the financial aid process, as it’s only going to be easier for them if they have all of the information they need. Browse through our site to get tips and financial aid information for educators on how to introduce students to financial aid and debunk those myths that paying for college is out of their reach.
College Funding Guide for Students
Finding ways for students to pay for college can get overwhelming, as there are a lot of options out there for them to do so – from federal funding options to what a student’s college can offer to the less traditional avenues of outside funding sources and balancing a job and academics. An important part of a counselor’s job is helping students understand their options so rather than focusing on one source of funding over another, students should be exposed to all different kinds of funding. Students worried about their parents’ low income will probably qualify for a number of federal grants that will help get them onto that college campus. Students worried about their less-than-stellar academic record decreasing their chances of landing a college scholarship should know there are scholarships for students that don’t even consider their grades, GPA and standardized test scores. Finding college funding is important, but it’s also important that students know how many choices they have when finding ways to pay for college.
Federal aid will always be an importance piece of a student’s financial aid package and applying for it can be intimidating for students who aren’t familiar with applications that ask for things like their parents’ income and savings. For those students – or parents – who need some help filling out that first Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, their high school counselors or intended college’s financial aid officers will often be important resources for information and advice. It’s important to stress the importance of filling out that FAFSA as soon as it’s available (January 1st of each year) and following the directions carefully so that there won’t be any delays in the processing of that application. Many colleges dole out federal funding on a first-come, first-serve basis until it’s gone and as funding levels may change annually, it’s important for students to be very aware of those deadlines.
While the ideal financial aid package would include no student loans, the reality is that most college students will need to take out some student loans to complete their college degrees. An important task for counselors and educators is making sure students understand that they should strive to be as close to debt-free as possible when they leave their respective colleges and to propose ways to prevent that debt burden from getting out of hand. Educating students about the different loans available and the most desirable loan options available will go a long way toward helping students make smart decisions about funding their future.