Top 5 Tips on How to get Financial Aid

When they begin their college years, many students discount just how valuable financial aid can be to them as well as their families. Unfortunately there is still some stigma attached to the word, “financial aid”. Granted, not as much as there used to be; however, this still causes many students and their families to not even pursue a potential $3 billion opportunity provided by the U. S. Government, your state government, your college and possibly your community.

“Financial aid” is the process whereby students receive grants and scholarships (FREE money) to attend college as the initial portion of financial aid. In addition, if necessary due to a shortfall in funds to complete college, they may obtain extremely favorable education loans. Currently, the interest rates on these loans are the lowest they have been in history.

How to apply for and get financial aid to reduce or eliminate need for student loan debt.

Complete your FAFSA

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid that a student and their parents are required to complete and fill out by June 3oth of every year. The FAFSA, while a Federal form is also utilized by your state as well as the college you will be attending to determine ALL grants that you are eligible to receive to reduce you overall college education tuition. The unfortunate and sad statistic when it comes to the FAFSA being filed is simply this: 51 – 53% of all students make no attempt to even file the FAFSA and many of those students could get over 50% of their college education at NO cost to them.

Miss ZERO Deadlines

Because the financial aid part that has to do with GRANTS is a very big part of a student’s financial aid package, you cannot miss any deadlines no matter what. There are no extensions, no extenuating circumstances and no exceptions. Grants are awarded on a first come first served basis and are awarded based on completion of all required and requested information. It is imperative that you stay on top of all requests and submit your FAFSA on the first possible date, electronically. In today’s competitive environment you want to be first, or as close to being first as possible.

Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are one of the most overlooked areas of aid. Students could possibly have 100% of their college covered through scholarships. In today’s environment it has never been easier to locate, apply for and receive a scholarship. Scholarships can be for educational excellence, excelling in a hobby, community service, religious or ethnic affiliation, and many other things. There are more scholarships available today than any time before and over 38% of the available scholarships go unclaimed. What do we mean by unclaimed? In some cases one only needs to apply and, upon successful application, the funds would be distributed to that sole applicant.

Fully Understand the FAFSA

Many Students and their families do not fully understand the FAFSA and report items that are exempt from being reported, reducing the amount of Financial Aid both on the Federal and the state/college level that the student is eligible for. A good starting point would be to print out the FAFSA, review the form in detail and go over it at least twice. If in doubt seek the help of a qualified tax professional that has knowledge and experience in this area. Doing so could help you get thousands of dollars in “Free Money”. It’s important to also accurately update your FAFSA on an annual basis because you could be eligible for additional financial aid as you progress through your college years.

Check your Student Status

Many students will begin their first year of college as a dependent student as they rely heavily on support by their parents or other family members. Often times by their second or third year of college they may be considered an independent student and could very well double the amount of financial aid that they receive or possibly more. It is important to check with your school’s financial aid office prior to starting your second year of college to see if you may qualify, or what you may need to do to qualify as an independent student. This process alone could save you thousands of dollars in both your undergraduate and graduate education if you decide to pursue one.

Hopefully, these five tips will give you an approach to the world of “Financial Aid”. Look at financial aid as your partner to reduce the thousands of dollars that a college education costs today. See it as your partner and not as an adversary. By making this small shift you will be surprised how much easier it is to go through the financial aid process.

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