Understanding the College Financial Aid Process

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1 Understanding the College Financial Aid Process

2 Where Do I Begin? Research the necessary forms and deadlines for each college you apply to by visiting the college s website Although you may believe you do not qualify for aid, please fill out the paperwork Colleges utilize various forms to make determinations on financial aid eligibility Make sure you know which forms pertain to which college: i.e., CSS, FAFSA If you miss a deadline, you may forfeit aid eligibility Be organized - every college has a different deadline If deadline is March 15th, commit to completing applications two weeks prior Do not wait to be accepted to complete financial aid forms Speak to colleges directly rather than relying on the advice of friends and family

3 Where Do I Access Financial Aid Forms? Check individual college websites for their own forms FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid All colleges administering federal aid must require students to complete the FAFSA Used to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) CSS Profile - online application that collects information used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government NCP Profile - Non-custodial Parent Profile Visit to determine if college requires the CSS or NCP

4 Free Application for Federal Student Aid Federal Money This is a free application - Do NOT go to Application is on-line only and available January 1 Apply for a federal PIN number Parent and student must have a PIN number Only custodial parents file FAFSA You will need: Student and parent(s) previous tax year 1040 and W2s (you may estimate until tax forms are completed) Asset information Examples of federal aid include: Supplemental Grant, Pell Grant, Federal Direct Stafford Loan, Work Study, State Grant Once your tax return is filed, you may go back into to update your estimated data Once the FAFSA is submitted, it will provide the college with a family contribution

5 The FAFSA - How to Apply Paper application: sent via US mail FAFSA on the web: Filed online using worksheet (preferred)

6 Completing FAFSA on the Web More than 95% of FAFSAs are filed online Parents with more than 1 college student can transfer data from original application to others Faster turnaround; more accurate

7 FAFSA Worksheet Families can save time by completing a worksheet before accessing FAFSA on the web Available on website - after December 31st

8 Reasons to File Electronically Built-in edits to prevent errors Skip-logic allows students and/or parents to skip unnecessary questions More timely submission of original application and corrections More detailed instructions and help for common questions Ability to check application status online

9 Completing Paper FAFSA Only 5% file paper FAFSA Paper FAFSA only available through download at federal web site or by calling FED-AID Completed and mailed to the federal processor Not the preferred way to file Takes 2-4 weeks processing time

10 Avoid Errors! Errors on the FAFSA or supplemental forms may delay application processing and result in the loss of financial aid funds Students and parents/guardians are encouraged to read the instructions and complete the forms carefully

11 Important Tips Submitting the FAFSA after high school graduation is considered late by most schools Students may not have funds available when classes start if they apply late Respond promptly to requests for information Delays can mean losing funds for which the student may be eligible

12 Special Circumstances Changes in employment status after filing FAFSA Medical expenses not covered by insurance Change in parent s marital status after filing FAFSA Unusual dependent care expenses

13 Special Circumstances Cannot report on FAFSA Send explanation to financial aid office at each college College will review special circumstances College may request additional documentation

14 FAFSA Processing Results Central Processing System notifies student of processing results by: notification containing a direct link to student s online Student Aid Report (SAR) if student s was provided on paper or electronic FAFSA (allow the following address to your account to prevent landing in junk mail): Students with PIN may view applications/status online at

15 Types of Financial Assistance Scholarships/Merit Awards Institutional Grants Work Study Federal/Private Loans Outside Scholarships State Grants Federal Grants

16 Warning to Parents/Students Don t get hooked by misleading scholarship offers College aid offers are everywhere Internet Mail Newspapers Magazines Telephone

17 Warning Signs of Scam High application fees Guaranteed winnings Everybody is eligible Masquerading as federal agency Claims of government approval Time pressure Unusual requests for personal information

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