Financial Aid. Offering Support and Low Cost Options for College Bound Students

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1 Financial Aid The mission of MOHELA is to provide lower-cost student loans and other financial and educational resources to benefit a diverse group of students so they can access higher education and to enable them to successfully complete postsecondary educational programs Spirit Drive Chesterfield, MO (888) (636) Fax: (866) TDD: (636) Offering Support and Low Cost Options for College Bound Students APPLY ONLINE 0908

2 Reaching your Higher Education Goals k Planning for higher education means more than simply choosing your school; it s a ourney of many steps that one must take in order to achieve their goal. As with any ourney, having something to guide you along the way makes the process that much easier. A guide can steer you in the right direction, give you confidence in your steps, and allow you to reach your goal quickly and efficiently. Consider this your guide to financing your higher education. In it, you ll find helpful tips about what options are available, where to look for aid, and what you need to do to secure funding. Starting early means one less thing to worry about as you get ready to begin your education. Here are some ways to begin your research: Determine your need. Before you start looking for money, it s important to know how much you need to look for. Look at the cost of tuition at your chosen school against what you may already have saved for your education. Having the entire picture in front of you can save you money in the long run. Talk to people in the know. College financial aid administrators are a great resource to finding aid, and their expertise and experience can help you with your individual needs. High school counselors often have general information and application materials, and they may be able to help you locate sources of aid as well. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student aid (FAFSA). One of the first steps you take toward financing your education should be the completion of the FAFSA, which determines your financial need and eligibility for most forms of aid. To apply, simply visit and follow the instructions to complete the application process. You should submit the FAFSA even if you do not think you will be eligible for financial aid, as many states and schools use the results to award non-federal aid. Search the web. The inter- net can be an invaluable guide to what sources of aid are available to you. In the following pages, you ll find several websites to begin your research on scholarships, grants, and federal financial aid. Money for higher education is available regardless of academic, social, or financial background. Maximizing the quality of this financial assistance requires preparing and planning. Read and save this booklet, collect information, talk with experts, and begin securing funding for college as soon as you can. Financial Aid: The Basics 1 Read on to learn about: Sources of Aid Gift vs. Self-help Aid Need vs. Merit-based Aid When & How to Apply Most families don t need to be sold on the necessity of higher education in today s competitive environment. The total annual cost for a year at a 4- year public university averages about $15,000, while the annual cost of a private university averages $31,000 or more*. It s important to consider college an investment in your future: there are few things * Source: collegeboard.com, Inc. 2

3 College admissions or financial aid offices are typically the best way to find out more information on what types of aid are available to you and your family. that appreciate over a lifetime like higher education. In the following pages, you ll find out why financial aid should be used to supplement your family s ability to pay for college. Need-based aid attempts to create cost between similarity colleges with different costs so you can choose your school based primarily on how it will meet your academic and professional needs. The U.S. Government is the single largest source of student financial aid, and federal aid funds are distributed through several programs. Many students qualify for more than one program simultaneously. The second largest source of aid is provided by colleges (institutional aid), followed by state aid and private entities. Another maor source of assistance is the Armed Forces. If you are interested in pursuing this type of career, look into scholarships and tuition assistance programs available from your local National Guard or military reserve component. You can learn more about all of these sources of aid through your high school counselor, college financial aid office, or state higher education agency. College admissions or financial aid offices are typically the best way to find out more information on what types of aid are available to you and your family. Look for college fairs and financial aid information programs in your area; many colleges participate in these types of programs, and you ll have access to a variety of valuable information, all in one location. Remember to research private scholarships and grants from corporations, civic groups, philanthropic organizations, your parents workplace and religious or secular organizations to which you or your family members belong. Enlist your family in the search for scholarships to help fund your education; it can be a great way to find out about a variety of sources that you didn t know about. Be cautious of scholarship searches that promise free money in exchange an up-front fee. Reputable scholarship sites are free to everyone and do not charge a fee for the service. Complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid online at Not only is this a great paperless option, but it can streamline your financial aid process. A variety of helpful, up-to-date information is available from the U.S. Department of Education at under both the Student and Parent portals. Search for scholarships free of charge at the largest and most complete online source for scholarships available. Mapping Your Future is a national, collaborative, nonprofit organization providing career, college, and financial aid services for students and their families. Check out their website at org for information on everything from preparing for college to managing your finances after school. 3 4

4 How Financial Aid Works For You Understanding the basics of a given process makes that process much easier: so it is with financial aid. Let s start with terminology. There are two categories of help: need-based aid and merit-based aid. Within these categories are two types: gift aid and self-help aid. NEED-BASED AID This is the most common category of aid awarded throughout the United States. Eligibility for needbased aid is determined by an evaluation of your family s financial circumstances through completion of a needs analysis application known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). MERIT-BASED AID This is usually awarded by colleges and private sources for unique talent and achievement or for meeting other donor-specified qualifications. Merit scholarships may include academic, leadership, athletic, music, single parent and returning adult student awards. As mentioned above, each category can include two types of aid: gift and self-help. Gift aid does not typically have to be repaid. Scholarships and grants are gift aid and may be offered on the basis of need or merit. Self-help aid is associated with an obligation; it must either be earned through employment or repaid. Loans and work programs are considered self-help aid. Understandably, the most sough-after financial assistance is gift aid; however, qualifying for this type of aid can be difficult, and there is simply not enough available to meet everyone s needs. Because of this, self-help aid plays a significant role in helping students meet their higher education costs. The underlying principle of need-based aid is that students and parents of dependent students bear the responsibility of paying for college expenses. Needbased funds are intended to supplement your total higher education costs, like tuition, room and board, travel costs, personal expenses, books, supplies, and other incidentals. k Common Terms Related to Federal Student Loans Default is a failure to repay a loan according to the terms of the promissory note. Defaults are recorded on your permanent credit record and have adverse, long-term consequences. Deferment is when the student loan repayment is temporarily postponed for specific circumstances. The Notice of Loan Guarantee & Disclosure Statement is notification from the lender acknowledging loan approval and listing the dates the loan amounts will be paid, interest rates, fees, and the net amount of the proceeds. Entrance and Exit Interviews are important informational sessions the student borrower must attend before receiving most federal student loans, and after they complete their education. Sessions are typically administered through your school s financial aid office or are offered online. Guarantors are state or non-profit agencies which insure student loans on behalf of the federal government and lender. Origination & Default Fees are fees the federal government requires on most federal loans, and may be deducted from loan disbursements. Master Promissory Notes are legal documents that a student or parent borrower signs agreeing to repay a loan according to the specific terms specified in the document. 5 6

5 Federal Financial Aid Programs* AID PROGRAM DESCRIPTION ANNUAL AMOUNT REPAYMENT Federal Pell Grant A monetary gift to qualified undergraduate students. Eligibility based on financial need. Up to $5,350. Subect to federal budget appropriations.** Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) A monetary gift awarded to undergraduate students. Eligibility based on financial need, priority given to applicants qualifying for Federal Pell Grants. Up to $4,000. May exceed $4,000 for study abroad programs. Due to limited funding, most awards are less than the maximum allowed. Federal Work-Study (FWS) Allows students to work part time to earn money for college expenses. The college coordinates the ob. Eligibility based on financial need. Earnings are at least minimum wage but may be more. Limited to amount awarded. Academic Competitiveness Grant for Access & Persistence (ACG) A monetary gift awarded to first year and second year undergraduate students who graduated high school after January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2006, respectively. Eligibility based on financial need. Up to $750 for first year undergraduate students; up to $1,300 for second year undergraduate students. Teach Grant A monetary gift available to undergraduate and graduate students and students enrolled in post-baccalaureate teacher credential programs who agree to serve as a full-time teacher for four academic years within eight years after completing the degree program. Up to $16,000 for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students; up to $8,000 for graduate students. ; however, failure to comply with all program eligibility requirements will convert the Teach Grant to a loan that must be repaid. National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART) A monetary gift available to full-time students during their third and fourth year students who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant and who are maoring in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering or in a foreign language determined critical to national security. Students must be enrolled in the necessary coursework required to complete the degree program and to fulfill the requirements of the intended eligible maor as well as maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in coursework required for the maor. Up to $4,000 for full-time students for each of the third and fourth years of undergraduate study. 7 *Rates and information shown above are effective July 1, 2008 unless otherwise indicated. Interest rates and other information are subect to change. Check with your financial aid office for additional information. **Effective July 1,

6 Federal Financial Aid Programs* (cont.) AID PROGRAM DESCRIPTION ANNUAL AMOUNT REPAYMENT Federal Stafford Loan (Subsidized & Unsubsidized) Loans issued on or after July 1, 2008, will carry a 6.8%** fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. Eligibility for the subsidized Stafford is based on financial need and features deferment of principal and interest charges while enrolled at least half-time. As an additional alternative, the unsubsidized Stafford is for independent students and dependent students who do not qualify for the maximum subsidized version. Eligibility for the unsubsidized Stafford is not based on financial need. **Subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduate students issued on or after July 1, 2009 and before July 1, 2010 carry an interest rate of 5.6%. Full-Time Dependent Undergraduate Students: 1st year up to $5,500 between subsidized and unsubsidized; 2nd year up to $6,500 between subsidized and unsubsidized; 3rd year and beyond up to $7,500. Full-time Independent Undergraduate Students: 1st year up to $9,500 between subsidized, 2nd year up to $10,500 between subsidized and unsubsidized; 3rd year up to $12,500 between subsidized and unsubsidized. Graduate & Professional Students: up to $20,500 per academic year, with no more than $8,500 of the total in subsidized loans. A standard repayment may run up to 10 years. Repayment of principal begins six months after graduating, leaving college, or whenever enrollment drops below halftime. The government pays interest for the subsidized version until repayment begins. The borrower pays all interest charges for the unsubsidized version, which may be deferred and capitalized. Federal Parent PLUS Loan Loans issued on or after July 1, 2006, will carry an 8.5% fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. Available to parents of an undergraduate student; eligibility determined by college, but not based on need. Borrower must have good credit history. May borrow up to the difference between college costs minus estimated financial assistance. Repayment begins within 60 days after loan is fully disbursed.*** Federal Graduate & Professional PLUS Loan (GradPLUS) Loans issued on or after July 1, 2006, will carry an 8.5% fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. Available to graduate/professional students enrolled at least half-time; eligibility determined by college, but not based on need. Borrower must have good credit history. May borrow up to the difference between college costs minus estimated financial assistance. Repayment begins within 60 days after loan is fully disbursed.*** *Rates and information shown above are effective July 1, 2008 unless otherwise indicated. Interest rates and other information are subect to change. Check with your financial aid office for additional information. ***Federal PLUS and GradPLUS loans may be eligible for deferment while the borrower or their dependent student is enrolled at least half-time. Please visit mohela.com for details. k 9 10

7 Planning Ahead 11 SEPTEMBER Review your career plans and narrow your choices to the top three to five colleges in which you are most interested. Request catalogs and admissions materials from each institution. Contact the Admissions offices at the schools you are interested in and schedule campus visits with each. Talk to your high school counselor about registration materials and test dates for the SAT and/or the ACT. Begin your search for private scholarships. Websites like and are a good place to stat reviewing scholarships that may be available to you. OCTOBER Begin asking teachers, guidance counselors, and employers for letters of recommendation to include with your admissions and/or scholarship applications. Continue your search for private scholarships. Obtain financial aid information from the colleges you are most interested in and carefully review all materials, especially those about available aid, application procedures and deadline dates. Attend college fairs and financial aid information nights. Most are held on evenings and weekends to accommodate students and parents. NOVEMBER Take the SAT or ACT exam, if necessary. Begin working on essays for your college applications. Visit your top school choices. Talk to a good variety of students, faculty, and staff about the institution and what it has to offer. Talk to your high school counselor about applying for national, state, and local scholarships. Attend special programs such as college fairs and financial aid nights. Review your application deadlines and take the appropriate steps to ensure deadlines are met. DECEMBER Take the SAT or ACT exam, if you have not done so already. Begin applying for national, state, and local scholarships. Obtain the free Application for federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from your high school counselor, college financial aid office, or online at Begin preparing your college applications if you have not already done so, and be aware of when submission deadlines are for each institution. JANUARY Request a PIN for applying for federal aid online for you and your parent by going to Complete and submit your FAFSA online at Remember: the FAFSA can not be submitted before January 1 of the same year you plan to attend college. Continue to apply for outside funding or scholarships. Assemble family W-2s and begin to complete your tax returns; you will need this information to complete the FAFSA, which will determine the aid you are eligible to receive. FEBRUARY If you have not already done so, assemble family W-2s and complete your tax returns. Complete and submit your FAFSA online at Try to submit your FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. Keep copies of all forms you submit. Watch for financial aid application deadlines. Promptly respond to requests for information from both college admissions and financial aid offices. 12

8 Planning Ahead (cont.) MARCH Attend a College Goal Sunday event. Visit for a list of locations. Check to see if your mid-year transcripts have been sent to the schools to which you have applied. Review your financial aid award packages from the colleges to which you have applied for financial aid. Your package may include various forms of assistance, including federal student loans. After concluding your college visits, interviews, and research, rank your finalized list of colleges. APRIL Contact each college financial aid office to make certain that your application is complete. Find out what else you need to do to establish and maintain your eligibility for financial aid. If you have not done so already, review your financial aid award packages from the colleges to which you have applied for financial aid. Your package may include various forms of assistance, including federal student loans. Keep copies of all forms you submit to the financial aid office. Make your final decision on college attendance and notify the appropriate admissions office (if you have not done so already). If you applied to multiple colleges, notify them of your plans to attend college elsewhere. MAY Pay any required deposits for enrollment and/or residence hall at your chosen institution. Check with your chosen college s financial aid office about the details of accepting or declining your financial aid. If you have not done so already, notify any colleges you applied to and inform them of your plans to attend elsewhere. Watch for important deadlines at your chosen college (housing, financial aid, etc.). JUNE Take Advanced Placement (AP) examinations that are given in high schools nationwide. Request your final high school transcripts be sent to your chosen college. Call the admissions and financial aid offices to verify that all necessary information is complete. Finalize summer school or summer ob plans. JULY If you have not done so already, request your final high school transcripts be sent to your chosen college. Call the admissions and financial aid offices to verify that all necessary information is complete. Promptly respond to any requests for information from your college admissions and financial aid offices. Attend your chosen college s orientation program when offered. Pre-register for classes to ensure you get your first choices and are able to stay on schedule. Complete your budget for the academic year. AUGUST If you have not done so already, request your final high school transcripts be sent to your chosen college. Pay any required deposits or fees for enrollment, residence, etc. Call the admissions and financial aid offices to verify that all necessary information is complete. Attend your chosen college s orientation program when offered. Register for classes to ensure you get your first choices and are able to stay on schedule. If you have not done so already, complete your budget for the academic year

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