A New Twist On Financial Aid
Tips For Filling Out The FAFSA Form
Austin Lesch will graduate from high school in Bethesda, Md., this spring. He’s already filled out applications for nine colleges and universities, and now he and his parents will turn to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), used to determine federal and institutional aid. He’ll have to be just as strategic when filling out the FAFSA as he was with his college applications.
Students can have the FAFSA sent to up to ten schools at a time, but many students may not realize that the order in which they list those schools could influence the size of their aid packages—or even their admission. Many schools assume the first school listed on the FAFSA is the student’s top choice. That won’t influence the selection process at the most elite schools, he says, but some second-tier schools pay attention to how schools are ordered— particularly if they’re at the bottom of the list. These schools may reject an applicant in order to increase the percentage of prospective students who accept offers, he says.
And a school at the top of the list may offer a smaller aid package because admissions officers think the student will attend anyway, says Campus Consultants founder Kalman Chany, author of Paying for College Without Going Broke. Chany recommends listing schools in alphabetical order. Or, says Kantrowitz, list the second-choice school first.
Source: Sandra Block Kiplinger’s Personal Finance February 2014
Message From The Dean – Bob Fulcomer
Since we are entering the crucial time of the year where many colleges and universities are requiring to complete the FAFSA applications and reviewing your admission application, it is important for you as a student or parent to fully understand the financial aid process .
This month’s Scholars Newsletter focuses on the financial aid process and eligibility requirements.
Although some may find the FAFSA to be intimidating to complete, with the proper guidance from your assigned HIFE Coach, you should be able to go through this process much smoother than normal.
Be sure to work carefully with your Coach as he/she can provide you some valuable information that can make a great impact on how colleges and universities review your FAFSA which in turn can affect the outcome of your award letter.
What Is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is money to help pay for college or career school. Aid can come from:
- the U.S. federal government,
- the state where you live,
- the college you attend, or
- a nonprofit or private organization
Besides financial aid, you also should think about what you can do to lower your costs when you go to college.
Aid and Other Resources From the Federal Government
The federal government offers a number of financial aid programs. Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (discussed
below), you also might get
- aid for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran,
- tax benefits for education,
- an Education Award for community service with AmeriCorps,
- Educational and Training Vouchers for current and former foster care youth, and/or
- scholarships and loan repayment through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, and National Health Service Corps.
The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low- interest loans to more than 15 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do!
Federal student aid includes:
- Grants – financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund)
- Loans – borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
- Work Study – a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school
Aid From Your State Government
Even if you’re not eligible for federal aid, you might be eligible for financial aid from your state. Contact your state grant agency for more information.
Aid From Your College or Career School
Many colleges offer financial aid from their own funds. Find out what might be available to you:
- Visit your school’s financial aid page on its website, or ask someone in the financial aid office.
- Ask at the department that offers your course of study; they might have a scholarship for students in your major.
- Fill out any applications the school requires for its own aid, and meet the deadlines.
Aid From a Nonprofit or Private Organization
Many organizations offer scholarships or grants to help students pay for college. This free money can make a real difference in how affordable your education is.
THE FAFSA & ADMISSION APPLICATIONS ARE TIME SENSITIVE SO BE SURE TO FIND OUT THE DEADLINE DATES FOR EACH SCHOOL !
Who Gets Financial Aid?
To qualify for federal student aid (grants, loans, and work-study funds), you have to meet certain requirements.
Let’s go over the basic eligibility criteria.
Our general eligibility requirements are that you must:
- demonstrate financial need (for most programs);
- be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen;
- have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau);
- be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25);
- be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in a n eligible degree or certificate program;
- be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds;
- maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school;
- sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant and
- you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes; and
- having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or
- completing a high school education inshow you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by a homeschool setting approved under state law.
If you were enrolled in college or career school prior to July 1, 2012, you may show you’re qualified to obtain higher education by:
- passing an approved ability-to-benefit test (if you don’t have a diploma or GED, a college can administer a test to determine whether you can benefit from the education offered at that school)
- completing six credit hours or equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate (you may not receive aid while earning six credit hours); or
- meeting other federally approved standards your state establishes.For information about these criteria, talk to the financial aid office at your school.
Most male students must be registered with Selective Service to receive federal student aid. You also must register if you are a male and are not currently on active duty in the U.S. armed forces. If you are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands or the Republic of Palau, you are exempt from registering. You can call Selective Service toll- free at 1-888-655-1825 for general information about registering, or register online at www.sss.gov or via the FAFSA.
I am a non-U.S. citizen. Can I get federal student aid?
If you fall in one of the categories below, you are considered an “eligible noncitizen.”
You are a:
- U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island) or
- U.S. Permanent Resident with a Form I- 551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a green card.
- You have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) an Arrival– Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing¨“Refugee,”
¨“Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending),”
¨“Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980), or
¨“Parolee” (you must be paroled for at least one year, and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are not in the United States for a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident).
. You hold a T-visa (for victims of human trafficking) or your parent holds a T–1 visa. Your college or career school’s financial aid office will ask to see your visa and/or certification letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- You are a “battered immigrant–qualified alien” who is a victim of abuse by your citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you are the child of a person designated as such under the Violence Against Women Act.
- You are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau. If this is the case, you are eligible only for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, or Federal Work–Study. Check with your college or career school financial aid office for more information.Does my parents’ citizenship status affect my eligibility for aid?
No, your parents’ citizenship status does not affect your eligibility for federal student aid. In fact, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM) doesn’t even ask about your parents’ status. Learn about filling out the FAFSA.
Quite often, many students ask me “what are the requirements in order to maintain my financial aid.” Here are some general rules for you to follow:
- You have to complete the minimum required number of credit hours for each semester.
- You need to have a “satisfactory academic” progress in order to continue receiving most federal and state student aid.
- You have to work towards completing your degree of study in a time period that is acceptable to your school.
Since each school has its own satisfactory academic progress policy in order to maintain the financial aid eligibility, you must check with your school’s financial aid office what those specific requirements are as soon as possible. Some of those policies may include:
- A minimum GPA (grade point average)
- Number of credits required to be completed for each academic year
- How a drop, withdrawal, incomplete or repeated class or change of major affects your eligibility requirements
- Process you need to take should you go below the required guidelines of eligibility
As always, be sure to contact your assigned Coach as soon as you can for any additional guidance regarding this matter.