Guest Author - Maria Brown
Working towards your college degree can be a very rewarding decision however it can also take a toll on your pockets. When considering college, make sure you are using all of the available financial aid options that are out there. In addition to student loans, many people qualify for financial aid. The government has set aside over $160 billion dollars to award to students with financial need. You would be surprised at how many people qualify. People from all walks of life can find monetary assistance when pursuing your college degree. As a result, I strongly urge everyone to apply. Here’s a guide on how to apply for financial aid.
The first thing you need to do is fill out the Federal Student Financial Aid Application (also knows as the FAFSA). You can fill out a hard copy of the FAFSA at your school’s financial aid office or your can fill it out online. Filling out the form is pretty straightforward. Sidenote: you will need your previous year’s tax returns to fill out the FAFSA.
If you are filling out the FAFSA online visit the Federal Student Aid website. Click on the tab in the middle that says Start Here. You will then be prompted to put in your first and last name, your social security number and your date of birth. You will then be prompted to create a secure pin number. Your pin number will be used to securely sign your application at a later date.
Next you will need to fill in additional information about yourself. Things like your address, phone number and email address will be required. Lastly, you will need to input information from your last year’s tax return.
After you fill out all of the information, the system will calculate your EFC. EFC stands for your expected financial contribution. This is the amount that the government expects you will contribute toward your educational costs. After your EFC is calculated, you will be told an estimate of how much you will qualify for regarding financial aid. In addition, you will be given an approximate amount that you are approved for with student loans.
You can input all of the schools that you have applied to and the results of your application will be automatically sent to the schools that you have chosen within 3 days. After that, you can follow up with the school that you will be attending to determine what costs, if any, you will be responsible for.
You can apply for financial aid at any time during the year however money is awarded on a first come first served basis. You can apply as soon as January 1 of each year.