The financial aid process is daunting, especially when going through the process without help from a reliable source. Fortunately, we are here to help you navigate obscure financial aid acronyms with ease.
Always start out with the Free Application for Student Aid, known as FAFSA. Once your application is processed, you will know what federal assistance programs ,grants, and loans you qualify for, and how much will have to be through private lending agencies. This process is the same for graduate students, however graduate students may not be eligible for undergraduate programs, including Federal Pell Grants.
Once you’ve completed FAFSA, look for ways to cut your college costs. Apply for early action to maximize your financial aid package and apply for scholarships. Below, you’ll find more information and tips on navigating the financial aid process, including articles on the latest news from the financial aid industry.
The best way to supplement your financial aid package is to apply for scholarships. College scholarships minimize student loan debt. You do not need to be a star athlete or valedictorian to win scholarships. Many scholarships are based on financial need, community service and your intended field of study. Highlight your unique attributes to search for more specific college scholarships. Browse through our site or conduct a free scholarship search to see what awards you are eligible for, and start earning money for higher education.
From 529 Plans - offering tax savings over taxable accounts - to Coverdell Accounts - optimal for families looking to invest $2000 or less per year - every parent should be able to find a savings plan that meets their needs. Have a reference point when looking for savings plans. Estimate how much college will cost using a college financial aid calculator. Always start with a conservative number because some savings plans come with stipulations, where funds can only be used for college expenses.
Federal aid comes in the form of federal grant programs, federal student loans and federal work-study programs. Federal Aid is subject to change based on government funding policies. Eligibility guidelines for FAFSA are available online for a quick application and fast processing, starting January 1 of every year. FAFSA will answer the majority of your questions, determine how much funding you can receive, and what federal funding programs you qualify for. You may find that you're only eligible for Stafford Loans. Although Stafford Loans are not as desirable as grants, they do have lower interest rates than any private loan.
Research will help you understand financial aid information, and dispel popular misconceptions about the process. Many students believe they are either ineligible for scholarships, or that applying for scholarships is a waste of time. Truthfully, the financial aid process is the most important step you will take in the college application process. More than $130 billion is awarded each year to college-bound students. And while it helps to have an impressive academic record, much of the funding is needs-based. Once you've filled out your FAFSA, conduct a free scholarship search to find awards, and boost your financial aid package with money from scholarships and grants.
The optimal way to navigate the financial aid process is conducting thorough research. Luckily, we’ve done it for you. We update our site with the latest news on financial aid changes that affect how much you will receive from the government. Check out our links for updated financial aid news to determine what higher education institutions are doing to affect students’ financial aid packages. Always keep track of how government policies affect your ability to take out loans, get awarded grants, and pay for college.
While college is the most rewarding years in a student’s life, paying for college is not. No one wants high monthly payments or to be forced to default on payments, ultimately damaging your credit score. If you are faced with a higher tuition bill than anticipated, consider your options to cut your college costs and take advantage of the millions of dollars being awarded to students annually.
Last Reviewed: August 2017
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