College Financial Aid
Although college tuition can be costly today, it will pay off in the future. All of the expenses may seem overwhelming, but there is financial aid to help you reach your goal of going to college. Financial aid is money that the government and other organizations either give or lend so you can pay for your college education. The federal government is the largest source of aid for college students today. Other sources that offer financial help are state governments, colleges and universities, private organizations like companies or clubs, and banks.
It is important to learn about your options for financial aid, so you can choose the one that will work best for you. One option for financial aid is through a Grant. Grants are a gift from governments or colleges that do not have to be paid back! Most are given based on family circumstances. The next option is a Scholarship. Scholarships are also gifts that do not have to be paid back. They come from the government, colleges and private organizations. Many students receive scholarships to help pay for college if they have excelled academically or as an athlete. They are also given to students with interest in different subjects, do volunteer work or are members of an ethnic or religious group. Some companies even give scholarships to children of their employees. Researching scholarships that are available to you will pay off! Another option for students is a Loan. Banks, governments and lending companies give loans to college students that must be paid back with interest. These organizations typically give students a generous amount of time after their college education is complete to pay back these loans. A fourth option for college financial aid is a Work Study Program. The Federal Work Study Program offers paid part time jobs to help pay for college costs. When you choose the college that is right for you, there are financial aid officers there who can help you apply for these programs.
Although many scholarships and aid are based on family financial circumstances, it is important to remember that even if you have a comparatively high income, you may still qualify for financial aid. This is often helpful for families with more than one child in college at the same time.
How to Begin the Financial Aid Process
To apply for financial aid, whether through a loan, grant, or work study, first you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
This can be found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.
January 1st is the first day to apply for the 2013-2014 school year and most schools prefer them to be turned in by March 1st.
**Steps to take before filling out the FAFSA.**
Create your Personal Identification Number (PIN) at http://www.pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp. After filling out a short application, your pin can either be emailed to you immediately or post mailed later.
Have the following documents available:
-Social Security Card
-Records of income in the year prior to when you will start school. (Parent’s records if student is dependent.
-2012 W-2 Forms
-2012 Federal Income Tax Return
-Current Bank Statement
-Business records, stocks, bonds
While completing the FAFSA, you must list at least one college to receive your information. You should list your first choice college first, second choice second, and so on. You will be able to list up to ten colleges.
After completing online, it will take about 3-5 days for a FAFSA application to be processed and a student aid report to be sent back to you.