Money for College: Financial Aid
It is important to have enough money to pay most of your bills in college. Yes, you can get college loans if you really need them, but you DO NOT WANT to graduate owing a huge debt that will take years to repay. Some students owe so much that they can barely pay the interest. They will never be able to pay it off the load itself. They get deeper and deeper in debt.
This picture shows Cambridge University, one of the best known Universities in the world. Students from around the world dream of studying at Cambridge.
Who can get Financial Aid?
The simple answer is Almost Everyone. Most students who apply for financial aid get some amount of aid.
Do you need to be poor to get Financial Aid?
NO. Students from poor families are likely to get more aid, but many students who don’t apply for financial aid would actually have been eligible.
There is actually NO INCOME LIMIT.
According to Ken Kantrowitz at www.finaid.org some students whose parents earn a total of $180,000 or more a year may still be eligible for some financial aid. Many things are considered including the age of the parents and the number of children. At this time, for students whose family income is less than $23,000, there is no EFC (expected family contribution). Students can get enough aid to pay all expenses… but remember this includes grants, work-study, and LOANS.
Notice the spelling. Financial Aid. It isn’t Aide (a person who assists another person).
Do you have to be a US Citizen?
NO. Students with a green card, with Alien registrations, Refugee status, T Visa, or battered immigrant are also eligible.
Do you have to have graduated from High School?
Yes – or the equivalent. You can also have a GED (general education diploma) or have been homeschooled in an approved home school.
Do you need high grades?
No. If you are accepted in a college and if you continue to get satisfactory grades, you are eligible for financial aid.
What is included in Financial Aid?
There are three kinds of aid:
1. Grants: These do not need to be repaid. They are similar to Scholarships. The difference is that a scholarship is based on high grades and test scores and on athletic ability or other talent. A Grant is based on financial need.
2. Work-Study: The school will help you find a job, usually on campus, and the government helps pay your salary. Most students getting financial aid have a work-study job to help pay for books, school supplies and personal items.
3. Loans: There are many kinds of loans with different interest rates but loan need to be repaid.
You do not need to accept the work-study or the loans if you have enough money to cover your expenses. Loans should be used only if you really need them and believe you will be able to repay them soon after graduation.
How do you get Financial Aid?
You do not need to know which college you will attend. You certainly don’t need to be accepted yet. You should begin early to make preparations — like in elementary or middle school.
While you are a Sophomore or Junior in High School, you should begin learning about financial aid.
When you are a senior, as soon as possible after January 1, fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). While it can be done on paper, it is highly recommended that you do it online. Go to www.fafsa.gov
You can use a school or library computer if you don’t have your own. While filling out the forms, there are suggestions for help on the right side. You can also click to get help, either in English or Spanish. Be prepared by finding out all the information ahead of time and getting your pin number early online.
http://metacounselor.org Fill out their form and get regular advice. There is a lot of helpful information on their website. Read it.
http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa More helpful information on student aid.
For questions, email [email protected]
10 Tips for getting more Financial Aid
1. Students who get good grades and who participate in school activities and do volunteer work might be considered for additional financial aid. Keep your grades high.
2. Start preparing early for the SAT or ACT. Take the preliminary tests: PLAN and PSAT. It is always better to have higher test scores. When the school has a limited amount of aid, they think carefully about who should get it.
3. Get your college applications in early and file your FAFSA as early as possible. It would be a shame if the school has already given away all available school financial aid.
4. College Savings should be in the parents’ names not in the student’s name. Try to do this before your junior year or early in your junior year.
5. If your parents are divorced, consider having the parent with the least income and savings be the custodial parent. They must take the student as an exemption. The other parent can still help pay for college, but the FAFSA considers only the custodial parent.
6. By the middle of your junior year, your parents might want to sell securities so the capital gains won’t show up as income the next year.
7. Before January 1, senior year, you should spend most of your available cash for THINGS YOU NEED. Begin by paying off all Credit card debt. Pay down your mortgage. Buy large household appliances or make repairs now rather than in the next several months. Buy a computer or other items you will need in college. WHY? Simple. When you fill out the FAFSA, showing less available money, you might get more financial aid.
8. Even if you don’t think you are eligible, fill out the FAFSA and apply. If your situation changes – loss of job, stock market losses, medical expenses, a brother or sister now in college too, you are likely to have more success in the future if you have applied earlier. To file online www.fafsa.gov
9. Your MUST FILE THE FAFSA EVERY YEAR to continue getting financial aid. If you don’t file the FAFSA, no matter how much help you need, you won’t get any financial aid.
10. Do not give up on expensive private colleges and universities. Some expensive schools give so much financial aid that you need to pay less there than at a low-priced state college. Go ahead and apply. See what they offer you.
You should also consider: Win College Scholarships