College is expensive. However, the investment should be well worth the benefits you will reap as a college graduate, and with the many options available today for federal grants, federal student loans, work-study programs, and more, college can also be affordable. As you consider the various forms of aid and eligibility requirements, Post University is here to help dispel common myths surrounding the financial aid experience.
How Does Financial Aid for College Work?
It can be surprisingly easy for most college applicants to nail down some form of financial aid. This aid may come as a grant, a scholarship, or a student loan. Grants and scholarships are awards, meaning students do not have to worry about repayment. Student loans, however, do have repayment terms. These usually begin after the student graduates and has had time to find employment.
Students who wish to pursue scholarships may have to fill out multiple forms, as well as meet the requirements of the scholarship, to be considered. But to be eligible for federal grants and federal student loans, one form, the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is required. As the name implies, it is free to fill out the FAFSA. Doing so every year will put you in the running for most state and federal awards for which you are eligible.
If you qualify to receive a financial aid package as a result of your FAFSA application, you will be notified by email. The funds will be deposited into your student account at the college of your choice. As you register for classes, payment will be applied directly from your funds. If you have funds left over, you can use them to purchase books and other school-related materials to help you earn your degree.
How Can Student Applicants Get Financial Aid?
To receive federal financial aid, you must fill out and submit your FAFSA by the application deadline: June 30th of the year you plan to attend. However, the sooner you submit your FAFSA, the better your odds of receiving aid. You can submit this form as early as October 1st. So long as you meet the deadline, you will be considered for college, state, and federal money for college.
Meanwhile, if you’re a high school senior who wishes to pursue a scholarship, the website NAVIANCE may be helpful. NAVIANCE is an online college-prep tool that partners with high schools across the country to help students learn more about higher education. NAVIANCE compiles lists of local and national scholarships that students can use to supplement their money for college. Through the NAVIANCE site, you can:
- Research Colleges
- Research Scholarships
- Research Financial Aid
- Create a List of Favorite Colleges
- Track and Manage Your College Applications
Once you’ve received notice of an award, you will have to sign to accept it. You must sign within the allotted time frame or risk giving up that money for college.
Common Myths Surrounding Financial Aid
While it is simple to apply for federal grants and federal student loans, many myths discourage eligible students from applying each year. And this is a shame because most students who apply will receive at least some form of financial aid package. We have compiled a few of the most common myths below:
You Won’t Qualify Because Your Parents Make Too Much Money
This is probably the most common misconception surrounding financial aid for college. In reality, there is no income cut-off that automatically prevents you from receiving federal aid. Awards are calculated using several factors, including financial need, number of children attending college, and family size. The best course of action is to fill out the application regardless of how much money your parents earn. It’s free to submit, and odds are good you will receive money for college as a result.
You Don’t Have Good Credit, so You Can’t Get a Loan
Your credit rating, or lack thereof, has zero impact on whether you’re eligible for federal student loans and federal grants so long as you apply through the FAFSA form.
The FASFA Is Difficult to Fill Out
The FAFSA is refreshingly easy to fill out and can be completed and submitted online in around 30 minutes or less. To hasten the process, you should collect certain information ahead of time, including:
- Your FSA ID. This means you must go to the FAFSA site and create an account.
- Your social security number
- Your driver’s license number or state-issued ID number, if you have one
- Income tax information from the prior year
- Records of any untaxed income or assets
- List of schools you are planning to attend
You Don’t Have Good Grades, so You Won’t Be Eligible
On your initial FAFSA application, your high school grades don’t really matter, although you must be on track to graduate before entering college. Otherwise, you must have attained your GED before applying. However, if you receive federal grants or loans, you must maintain at least a “C” average in college to remain eligible each year. Grades may be taken into account if you are applying for scholarships, however.
There Aren’t Many Options for Aid to Help Pay for School
Between federal grants, federal loans, state-issued aid, and scholarship opportunities, there are hundreds of options available for students who qualify. Be smart and apply for every award for which you are eligible. Many awards are stackable, meaning you can receive a grant, a scholarship, and a student loan to help you meet your financial obligations.
Private Colleges Are Too Expensive for Aid to Cover
Though some private colleges may have higher tuition costs, these schools often offer financial aid of their own, and most expect students to receive financial aid. In fact, some private colleges boast a student body that is made up of 99% of students on financial aid.
If you are ready to apply for federal, state, or local money for college, the Financial Aid Department at Post University is ready to help. Call today to set up a time to discuss your plans.
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