Are you planning on attending college or university this fall? If you are or are just thinking about attending, you are probably in need of some education financial aid. We know that when you are already in college you have more options to make extra money and support your expenses. The options are various, such as summer jobs, internships, quick externships, freelancing, among others.
Before college, you may need to search for a loan or financial support to fund your college education. Here we present the top 3 tips for applying for financial aid to get the assistance you deserve.
- Complete the FAFSA.
- Talk to your school’s financial aid department.
- Look for aid everywhere.
1. Complete The FAFSA
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The Free Application For Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is essential for applying for financial aid. Even if you don’t think you are eligible for free money like the Pell Grant or other grants, you should still complete the FAFSA. If your family has a good financial situation or if you are older and going back to college, you should still complete the FAFSA. You could be eligible for aid such as low-interest rate loans, grants, or scholarships.
The FAFSA is used to help determine your eligibility for extra assistance, like state aid or scholarships offered by someone other than your school. It is free to fill out at FAFSA.ed.gov. Also, non-citizens can apply for the FAFSA. If you need help filling it out, you can chat with or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at no charge.
To complete the FAFSA, you will need:
- Your social security number.
- Your driver’s license number (if you have one).
- Tax information from a previous tax year for you, and possibly tax information from your parents or spouse as well.
- An FSA ID to sign the FAFSA electronically (You can create that online as well).
- If you are a dependent student, you will need your parent’s information, and if you are an independent student, you will need your spouse’s information.
Whether you are a dependent or independent student is determined based on what you put on the FAFSA, not where you live or who pays your bills. Be sure to check with your school’s Financial Aid office for information like what FAFSA to do when attending and your school code. The school code is how FAFSA sends your information to your school or schools of interest. You can add multiple schools to the FAFSA, although generally, you can only get aid at one school at a time.
2. Talk To Your School’s Financial Aid Department.
They are the financial aid experts at your school. They handle the financial aid for all students at your college or university. The office of financial assistance will know about any school-specific requirements that you will need to complete or policies you need to obey to get your aid. You can ask questions like ‘Is there any paperwork that I still need to complete?’ or ‘Are there any scholarships offered by the school?’
Depending on your school, they may have a few ways for students to contact the Financial Aid office. Typically, you can go to the office on campus or call them. You may also be able to chat online or email them. You may be assigned a specific Financial Aid advisor or not. Contact your school’s Financial Aid Office if you have any questions about your aid or if you want to check on the status of your aid.
3. Look For Aid Everywhere
There are scholarships and grants for almost everything. Moreover, there are scholarships for a specific degree program, being a minority, being left-handed, and even making a duct tape prom outfit. There are also merit scholarships for good grades or test scores. Depending on where you live, there may be State Aid available as well. Many people qualify for this kind of free aid money, but they don’t know it.
Other places that you may not think of may offer aid as well. Your workplace, or a family member’s workplace, may have a scholarship or grant program. If you go to school for a degree to advance in your workplace, your work may offer tuition assistance. Your church or religious organization may offer a scholarship.
Your high school may have scholarships. If you are a high school student or recent graduate, talk to your guidance counselor to see what financial aid they know of. Ask the Human Resources department of your work about scholarships or if they offer tuition reimbursement. Have your parents ask about scholarships at their workplace as well.
You can also look for and apply for outside scholarships on your own. Websites like The College Board’s Scholarship search or Scholarships.com can help you find scholarships that you didn’t know existed. There are many scholarship search engines, so check multiple ones. These kinds of scholarships may require an essay or proof that you meet their requirements.
If you follow these tips, you can be sure that you will be well on your way to getting the financial aid you need to get the education you want.
Ask for help from experts, like your school’s office of financial assistance and FAFSA. Look for scholarships and outside tuition assistance. Complete the FAFSA even if you don’t think you can get financial aid.