We believe the financial aid process should be easy to understand and follow. To help you with the process, we have outlined all the steps involved in applying for financial aid. Of course, if you have any questions during the financial aid process, please call to speak with one of our expert loan advisors at (800) 821-5659.
Five-Step Financial Aid Process
1. Complete FAFSA
Fill the application of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Various resources from where you can obtain FAFSA are your prospective college's Financial Aid Office, public libraries, or online. Best time to send FAFSA is as soon as possible after January 1.
Note: Be sure to check on any additional aid forms that your school might offer.
After sending FAFSA, The Department of Education will use that information to determine your need. You need is the difference between your school expenses (Cost of Attendance or COA) and how much your family can afford (Expected Family Contribution or EFC). It will generate a Student Aid Report which you will receive about three to six weeks after you have submitted the FAFSA. Check it carefully for any errors and then send it your school's financial aid office, if required. Each school that accepts you will mail you a financial aid award package. Once you've received the package, discuss the details with your school financial aid officer to ensure smooth application process.
Note: Check thoroughly the system of your school as it differs from one another.
2. Apply for FREE Money
Grants and scholarships act as the best instrument to fund your education. Options like committing to maintain certain GPA level should be thoroughly explored. Though most students fund their college education with student loans, you should investigate your "free money" options too for a debt-free future.
3. Financial Aid Reward Package should be evaluated
Your award letter contains complete list of information about your financial aid package. Review it thoroughly and make sure to keep a copy of all components of your package. These generally include federal student aid grants, loans, scholarships, work-study, and Federal Stafford Loan eligibility. The most appealing school and its package should be your destination and accept it in writing. You should also mail other schools which you do not wish to join, either by a letter or an email.
4. Work-Study Program
This is a need based federal aid for students by assigning them a part-time job on campus in order to earn for school tuition fees. Work-Study program will help students to earn minimum wage paid by the federal government. Ask your finance aid officer for more help. If you qualify this program, you may request a job assignment in your own field.
5. Apply for Student Loans
Your school may suggest you to apply for federal loans with low interest and deferred payment options. Each college selects a federal loan program which is not awarded based on credit history, but on financial need. These include the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) or the Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP). With FDLP, the federal government provides the loan funds, while with FFELP, private lenders provide the loans.
Naturally you would like to have loans with the lowest interest rate and most number of options for deferring payments until graduation. To learn more about different kinds of loans and for any assistance, please visit our detailed section on Paying For College.
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