Financial Aid & Scholarship Information

As college costs rise, so does the opportunity and need to get funding through federal aid, grants, low interest loans and scholarships. Doing your financial aid homework can really pay off.

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1

Millions of dollars in college funding is available to be claimed!
According to a survey conducted by the National Postsecondary Student Aid, half of students who were eligible for federal student aid did not even apply!

Today, two-thirds of all college students receive some form of aid. It's now common for every student attending college to submit the free application for the FAFSA to gain access to financial aid, grants and low interest loans.

By applying, you can be one of the 14 million college students to receive a portion of the $100 billion in grants given each year. It’s certainly worth a try!

*US Department of Education Fast Facts

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As college costs rise, the need for financial support grows that much greater.
According to the College Board, over the past five years (2005-06 to 2010-11 school years) the average published tuition and fees increased by about 24% at public four-year institutions, by 17% at private nonprofit four-year institutions, and by 11% at public two-year institutions.*

This is precisely why everyone should submit the FAFSA for the potential of aid, grants and to receive low interest loans to help pay the way.

*http://www.collegeboard.org/

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The cost of college can be over $150,000 over 4 years.
Merit-based aid can help you cover these costs. This type of financial assistance is awarded for a student's achievements, such as in academics or athletics. Students who take the PSAT and do well are automatically eligible for merit-based aid. Research other merit-based aid options online to help cover your cost of college.

There are two forms you need to become familiar with, the FAFSA and the PROFILE. Check with the financial aid office at each school you are considering to see which forms you'll need to complete.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The FAFSA is the standard form required to receive any financial assistance from the U.S. government. Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, Stafford, Perkins and PLUS loans all require a finished FAFSA.

The Department of Education will examine your basic financial information (household income, family size, the number of children in school, the age of the older parent, etc.) to determine the amount of support to which you're entitled. The federal processor reviews this information and returns an amount called Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or the out-of-pocket expense of which your family is expected to contribute.

Applying for federal student aid is free. The FAFSA is usually available from financial aid offices after November 1. Apply as soon as possible after January 1 of the year you plan to attend school. Some schools set deadlines as early as March for certain types of funds (for which you will not be eligible until after you complete the FAFSA).

The CSS PROFILE

This form, now used by many institutions, was designed to assist colleges that wanted more information (and earlier information) than the federal government was providing from the FAFSA. Usually, these colleges have their own funds to award and the PROFILE gives them the additional information they need for their award process. This application process does require a processing fee.

The Basics for Completing the FAFSA

FAFSA highly recommends you fill out the form online at fafsa.ed.gov. You will be automatically prompted with a list of grants and applications, and the process will be smoother, as resources and answers to your questions will be in one spot.

You should fill out the FAFSA each and every year you are in college, one form for both federal and state aid.

Once you've submitted the form, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). If you've filed electronically, the SAR will arrive by e-mail as fast as a week after submission. If you didn't complete the electronic process correctly or filed a paper application, the SAR will arrive by post office two to three weeks after submission.

After you confirm that all the information is correct, the Department of Education issues you an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This figure represents the amount of support the government expects your family to provide for college expenses. Your school will receive a copy of the SAR three days after final processing.

Here’s the information you’ll need to provide for the FAFSA:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) of student (or parent’s, if a dependent)
  • Driver’s License
  • Bank Statements
  • Investment Records
  • W-2 forms and any other record of income
  • Federal Tax Return (or parent’s, if a dependent)
  • Your school’s Federal School Code number, which you can look up here.

Your financial aid office should have all the proper forms and answers to your questions, or you can refer to the Department of Education's FAFSA website for more resources.

What is FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is the application for the U.S. government financial aid. The FAFSA is an information collector and your doorway to government aid, need-based grants and thousands of non-federal grants and aid.

In the simplest terms, it determines how much money you and your family can contribute to your college education based on the cost of the college and your ability to pay. Kaplan has the tools to walk you through the process step-by-step.

How is financial aid calculated?

The Department of Education will examine your basic financial information (household income, etc.) to determine the amount of support to which you're entitled.

FAFSA looks at the college's cost of attendance (tuition, fees and expenses) and subtracts the expected family contribution. The result is considered your unmet need and is the amount of financial aid you are qualified for.

Please keep in mind that any outside funding (i.e. scholarships) will be reduced from the unmet need.

How do I receive aid?

Once you've submitted the FAFSA from, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). If you've filed electronically, the SAR will arrive by e-mail as fast as a week after submission. If you didn't complete the electronic process correctly or filed a paper application, the SAR will arrive by post office two to three weeks after submission.

After you confirm that all the information is correct, the Department of Education issues you an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This figure represents the amount of support the government expects your family to provide for college expenses. Your school will receive a copy of the SAR three days after final processing.

Each college's financial aid department determines how their students receive assistance (check, automatic deductions on tuition bills, etc.). However, your school is required inform you of all its aid procedures and deadlines, particularly how and when you will receive your aid and/or work-study. Make sure you follow-up with your aid office so that you know what to expect and when.

When Should I Apply for Financial Aid?

The FAFSA is usually available from financial aid offices after November 1. Apply as soon as possible after January 1 of the year you plan to attend school.

Timing is important. While federal aid has a rolling submission process each year, state aid has strict deadlines. Often times, colleges have separate deadlines, so it’s best to check both.

Some schools set deadlines as early as March for certain types of funds (for which you will not be eligible until after you complete the FAFSA). Keep in mind, the longer you wait to submit your application, the less money there will be.

Who Should Apply for Financial Aid?

Everyone who is attending college should fill out the FAFSA each year.

Even if your family's income is too high to qualify for need-based grants, you may still be able to get subsidized student loans.

Should there be a change of life or change to your ability to pay for college mid-year, getting your data into the system may speed the process along.

Scholarships can make paying for college a little–and sometimes a lot–easier. Thousands of colleges, companies and nonprofits offer scholarships each year, many of which do not have to be paid back. You can be part of this.

To make your search easier and organized, ScholarshipAdvisor.com is one of the many free resources available that:

  • Lists scholarships by interest, major and academic categories
  • Offers a scholarship search engine
  • Organizes scholarships by state
  • Features The Great Scholarship Search Infographic
  • Discusses scholarship scam red flags
  • Is available in an App for iOS download

6 Smart Steps to Scholarship Success

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Start researching early.
Give yourself plenty of time to find the right scholarships and to apply. Get the KapMap , your essential college planning roadmap, to help you stay on top of all the important deadlines. The Kaplan Scholarships 2014 publication (Amazon.com) publication is also a valuable resource, providing you with a comprehensive list of over 3,000 available scholarships; contact information for each scholarship; annually updated and revised important financial guidelines, and much more.

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Use all resources and strategies available to you.
Investigate everything. You never know when an unlikely funding source may decide to grant you a scholarship. Check your college, your high school guidance office, your religious institution, and your parents' workplace. If you have a passion, there are scholarships aimed at what you love.

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Follow all steps and instructions.
You would be surprised at how many people ignore this simple advice. It pays (literally) to follow the rules.

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Be confident and self-assured.
Whether you are filling out your application, writing your essay or going on interviews, it's important to have a good self-image, a high level of confidence in your abilities, and pride in your past achievements.

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Remember to thank those who have helped you.
A handwritten note goes a long way and is often remembered. It will also reinforce they made the right choice and lay the groundwork for possible renewals.

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Don't pay anyone to do this work for you.
Believe it or not, there are many scholarship scams out there. Fraudulent scholarship companies and other information you should be aware of are available at www.ftc.gov.

For more information on scholarships and financial aid opportunities, visit StudentAdvisor.com.

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