Financial Aid: 6 Tips for College Students
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Here we present you with 6 tips that will serve as a guide throughout the process of figuring out how to pay for college.
Pursuing a higher education degree, or even more than one, is vital in this competitive world of ours. During college or university, we acquire the knowledge and develop the skills that are demanded in the workforce, and these enable us not only to stand out from others, but to succeed in our fields.
Even if higher education is essential, these programs can be quite expensive, which is why thousands of students seek financial aid in order to attend college or university and prepare for the future. However, many students and their families have some doubts about financial aid and whether they are eligible for it.
As well as going through the process of choosing a degree, a university, and a studying methodology —on-campus or online—, students and families alike need to learn about financial aid.
Figuring out how to pay for college can be a daunting process. That is why we want to share with you the following useful tips that will help both parents and students understand how financial aid works as well as learn everything they need to know to apply for it.
Kinds of Financial Aid
When it comes to financial aid, it falls under two categories: Merit-based and need-based.
The former, merit-based financial aid, is distributed by colleges and universities based on academic achievements and talent rather than a family’s income. ACT, SAT scores and high school credentials are some of the merits universities and colleges take into account during the admissions process to determine eligibility.
The latter is a need-based aid which is awarded by the federal or state government or colleges through scholarships, grants, and loans. In order to apply for need-based aid, students need to apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which will determine whether the student is eligible for financial aid.
6 Financial Aid Tips for Soon-to-be College Students
1. Stay alert at deadlines
Being aware of deadlines and making sure you don’t miss them is vital if you want to make the most of your financial aid process. Missing deadlines can result in money being left on the table and, trust us, you don’t want that.
For instance, the FAFSA opens on October 1 every year and the deadline to apply is on June 30 of the following year. As regards state and college financial aid deadlines, these might be sooner, so you need to do all your research as soon as possible.
2. Apply early
Not only is it essential to avoid missing deadlines, but also to make sure you apply early. Why? Well, some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so you can see that applying as early as possible might give you an upper hand.
3. Making conjectures about financial aid eligibility won’t help you
Remember: Do not decide not to apply only because someone you think is in a similar position as you didn’t qualify.
These kinds of decisions are extremely personal and, as such, they require you to focus on and only on your situation. We never know everything that goes on in another household, which is why making assumptions and decisions based on others’ financial circumstances won’t be helpful.
Plus, you won’t lose anything by applying for financial aid. If you end up not being eligible, then you will look for another way to fund your education. But, for the time being, we highly advise that you apply for it.
4. Do not focus on the sticker price
Many parents and students alike disregard a college because it is too expensive. But they need to take into account that, in most cases, the price on the sticker isn’t what they are going to pay.
The net cost is what you should focus on. This will tell you the sticker price minus the grants and scholarships. This way, you might be able to attend the college you have been dreaming about but thought was too out of your budget.
How can I determine the net cost? Most colleges’ websites have a net price calculator!
5. Get rid of all doubts
Understanding financial aid isn’t a piece of cake, which is why seeking professional help is advisable.
You should contact college financial aid offices if you have any questions. They will provide you with the answers regarding any kind of financial aid doubt, whether it is specific requirements, deadlines, among others.
6. You can appeal if the first offer isn’t appealing
Last but not least, parents and students need to be aware of the fact that the first offer might not be the final offer. For different reasons, students may be able to appeal if the school’s first offer isn’t enough.
For example, students with merit scholarships can try to negotiate higher offers. Another case in which you may be able to appeal is if your financial circumstances are worse than in previous years, as the FAFSA requires tax info from the “prior prior” year, and this might not reflect your current financial situation.
Always consider that the worst case scenario is they say “no”, but you won’t lose anything by trying.
We really hope these tips come in handy when applying for financial aid
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