The foremost step in procuring maximum financial aid is determining the amount of aid you would likely want. Make an estimate of the entire college cost structure without eliminating any details. This will give you clarity regarding your financial aid requirements.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AID:
To be eligible to receive federal sources of financial aid, students must fill out and submit the FREE APPLICATION FOR FEDERAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID (FAFSA) to the Department of Education. This should be done as early as possible.
Remember this – submitting the FAFSA will determine your eligibility for student financial aid using the following means:
1. Applying a standard financial aid qualification calculation to both student and family’s personal and financial information
2. Conducting verification with other federal agencies like the Social Security
Administration in order to ensure that the applicant deserves the aid
3. Electronically forwarding a record of the application to the college/colleges that have been mentioned by the applicant
We can now go into a bit more detail. Let me explain the process by which your financial aid eligibility is determined.
The FAFSA is the main contribution to the SAR, the Student Aid Report that provides the details of the EFC (expected financial contribution), which refers to the total amount that you and your family are expected to contribute toward the funding of your education.
This formulation can be better explained as:
Cost of College – Scholarships – Federal Financial Contribution – Federal Student Loans
– Other Financing Sources = Your Expected Contribution
REQUIREMENTS FOR STARTING THE FAFSA PROCESS
If you wish to apply for the current year, you will have to furnish financial information from your prior year’s tax return. The basic information required would be:
•Your Social Security Number (This can be found on your Social Security card)
•Your driver’s license (if you possess one)
•Your prior year W-2 Forms and other accounts of money earned
•Your latest Federal Income Tax Return – IRS Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040TeleFile, foreign tax return, or tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia
•Your parent’s prior year Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student)
•Your prior year untaxed income records – Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy
Families, welfare, or veterans benefits records
•Your latest bank statements
•Your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stocks, bonds, and other investment records (if you possess any)
•Your alien registration or permanent residence card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
Students must also include the names of colleges to which they plan to apply on the FAFSA form. By providing this information in the appropriate section of the FAFSA form, the FAFSA information will be electronically transferred to the financial aid office of the selected college, which can then permit them to consider awarding the student with monetary aid.
You can now file your FAFSA electronically. It is a secure, easy, and quick method of transmitting information to the respective institutions that you prefer. Once you have completed your FAFSA submission, the information you have provided is processed and verified. The processor forwards a record of your application to the colleges you have mentioned.
You will also receive a notification called the Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education. This permits you to review the information you have provided on the application and make alterations, if necessary.
Federal Pell Grants can also be of use to you when you are in search of financial aid for your college needs. These are need-based grants for low-income students.
Unlike the other loans, a Pell Grant is free money for college, and it does not need to be paid back. Students with family incomes of up to $50,000 are eligible for Pell Grants
Even while waiting for your FAFSA to be processed, you should start looking for qualifying scholarships. Did you know that in the United States alone, more than $3.4 billion is given annually to roughly 1.5 million deserving students?
Scholarships, like grants, are monetary help for your college studies that need not be paid back. These scholarships are available through many sources – the college you are going to attend, a club that you belong to, and private scholarship foundations to which you apply.
You can start approaching the financial aid office of your college and also browse the Internet for valuable hints about finding such scholarships. FastWeb is a popular site that can help you find suitable scholarships.
I hope you find this information helpful. Do you have specific questions related to financial aid? Please feel free to post your questions below. I would be more than happy to help!
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