Financial Aid Information
In addition to applying for scholarships to help pay the college tuition bill, there are some other things that need to be done to secure financial aid.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Almost all colleges require students and parents to complete and submit a FAFSA to be eligible for financial aid. The FAFSA asks for financial information from both the parents and the student and computes an EFC which means Expected Family Contribution. This figure is based on the information entered into the FAFSA and represents what is a reasonable amount that the family can contribute to the cost of college. The colleges use this figure as the base for determining the amount of financial aid the student will need. They subtract the EFC from the total cost and this gives them the amount that the student will need to meet the gap between the EFC and the total cost.
The FAFSA can be submitted any time after October 1. This is a major change from previous years when students had to wait until January 1st.
The Federal government prefers that the FAFSA be done online, and it can be accessed by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students and parents can use financial information from their previous year’s tax forms. Prior to beginning the form, both the student and one parent need to obtain an FSA ID, which allows for both to “sign” the online form. You can apply for the ID by going to https://fsaid.ed.gov. Parents who have signed a FAFSA in the past with a PIN, will now need that FSA ID.
If you apply to a New York State school, there is a link from the FAFSA to the New York State TAP Application which you can complete at the same time. Only New York State residents who attend New York State colleges are eligible for TAP.
Once the FAFSA is processed, you will receive a SAR, Student Aid Report. If any corrections are needed, follow the directions carefully and correct any missing or inaccurate information.
Watch for e-mail notices. If you give your e-mail address on the FAFSA, information will be sent to that address. Parents will not receive information; it will be sent to the student's e-mail.
After the FAFSA has been submitted, and the student has been accepted at a college, that college will send a financial aid award letter. It will contain all the financial aid information (including student loans) that will contribute to meeting the cost of attending. Read the letter carefully and follow instructions. If you have any questions, contact the financial aid office at the college to which you are applying.
Every student who is planning to attend college, should complete the FAFSA. You never know what money you may be eligible for, and I most cases, you cannot receive assistance if this form is not completed.
For more information and/or help, you can go to your high school counselor, the financial aid office at the college or school you plan to attend or the U.S. Department of Education at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Federal Student Aid
Federal student aid comes from the federal government. It can be used for education expenses at a postsecondary school. Federal aid can be used for almost anything related to education except personal expenses.
There are four categories of federal student aid:
- Grant - Most grants are based on financial need and generally do not have to be repaid.
- Scholarship - Money is awarded based on academic achievement and does not have to be repaid.
- Work-study - Money is earned through a job on or near the campus and does not have to be repaid.
- Loan - Loan money must be repaid with interest.
For more information, go to www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov.
Federal Student Loans
Federal Student Loans offer:
- low fixed interest rates;
- income-based repayment plans;
- loan forgiveness;
- deferment options.
Repayment of a federal loan does not usually begin until after the student leaves school. A student does not need a credit history or cosigner. The best place to start when considering a student loan is with a federal loan.
Who Is Eligible for Federal Student Aid?
The most basic eligibility requirements are that a student must:
- be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen;
- have a valid Social Security number;
- be qualified to obtain a postsecondary education by meeting one of the following criteria
- have a high school diploma or GED certificate;
- pass an approved ability-to-benefit test offered at the postsecondary school;
- meet other federally approved standards established by the state government;
- complete a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state laws