The process of securing financial aid can often seem like a daunting one, but knowing your options and having a plan is the best way to make sure you’re getting the most financial aid that’s available to you. Below we’ve outlined three ways to help position you for success in your quest for financial aid, and hopefully simplify the process by pointing you in the right direction.
1. Fill out and submit your FAFSA
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and by submitting your FAFSA you’re now eligible to be considered for financial aid awards from federal, state, and college sources. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study jobs, and loans, so it is a very important first step in securing your financial aid and paying for your education. The FAFSA is available online, but make sure to check deadlines for specific schools and grants for which you plan to apply – the earlier you submit your form, the more aid you’ll be eligible to receive! Click here to access the FAFSA.
2. Meet the deadlines
Just like the FAFSA, the earlier you submit your additional forms to your college, the more aid you’ll be eligible to receive. Every college has a limited aid budget, and when their aid dollars run out, that’s it! It seems like a no brainer, but by applying not only before the deadline, but early in the application period, you’re setting yourself up for a better chance at receiving aid.
3. Look for private scholarships
You have to look, but each year there is a lot of scholarship money left on the table because students did not apply. Private scholarships might not award as much aid as federal, state, or college sources, but every little bit helps when you’re trying to pay for your education, and reducing loan money your borrow is always a plus. Big Future by The College Board and Fastweb are good resources for finding private scholarships for both traditional and non-traditional students.
If you’re still on the fence about whether a college education is worth the cost, check out our white paper on the value of higher education.