Financial aid is top-of-mind for students and their parents in the springtime. Below is a list of frequently asked questions we often hear in regard to financial aid.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial Aid is financial assistance that helps cover educational expenses.
How Do I Apply for Financial Aid?
Every October, the Office of Federal Student Aid releases an updated version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
. Any student hoping to qualify for financial aid must complete the FAFSA before the deadline. FAFSA deadlines vary by state but usually fall around spring of each year.
The FAFSA asks for a lot of information about the income and assets held by the student and his or her parents. To make the process easier, we recommend having a copy of your most recent tax return nearby.
You will also need to provide at least one college to which the FAFSA results are sent. These institutions will use the information on your FAFSA to determine your financial aid package.
What happens once I fill out the FAFSA?
A few days after completing the FAFSA, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR will contain a summary of your information as well as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is an estimate of how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.
A few weeks later, you will receive award letters from the colleges listed on your FAFSA. These award letters will contain a summary of the federal and non-federal financial aid offered through the institution.
What Types of Financial Aid are Available?
Grants are the most desirable financial aid option. They are gifts from the government that do not need to be paid back.
2. Federal Student Loans
Federal student loans are loans from the government that must be paid back. They are generally more desirable than private student loans as they tend to have lower, fixed interest rates compared to private loans.
Federal student loans also offer more flexible repayment plans
. Borrowers may have the option to defer loan payments altogether in certain circumstances and may eventually be forgiven
if the student is willing to work in specific (usually federal) industries for a number of years.
3. Work-Study Jobs