January 22, 2018

Financial Aid – A Quick Overview

Financial Aid is a broad term that can include merit-based and need-based assistance (including grants and loans) in paying for college.  Typically when we talk about financial aid, though, we are talking about need-based funding, typically provided by the government, to help students with their education expenses.  In order to qualify for this type of financial aid, families need to show that there is a financial need.  This means that the providing entity will ask for a lot of details concerning your financial situation.  As a student, you will have to provide information on both your and your parents’ income and financial assets.

Financial Aid

Costs seem to keep going up!

The Federal government has a Student Aid program designed to assist students by either loaning them money, providing assistance through work study programs, or simply awarding financial aid if the need is proven.  There are some changes coming to the loan program, but as of this writing, interest rates range from 5% to 9% depending on who applies (student vs. parent) and the method of payback that you choose.  The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) application comes available each January and you should apply the January before you intend to start college in the fall.  You will also want to renew your FAFSA application each year.  Go to www.fafsa.gov to start the application process (Note:  there are similar web addresses that offer assistance in filing the FAFSA.  These are fee based services.  The FAFSA is a free application.)  If you do not qualify for a grant or work study program, you can still consider college loans  but don’t just jump at the loan – exhaust your scholarship opportunities first!

In addition to federal aid, many states also have a means of providing college funding for its residents.  In Florida, students can complete the Florida Student Financial Aid application.  This application is required for Bright Futures, but will also determine whether a student is eligible for other Florida based grants and scholarships so fill this out even if you won’t be applying for Bright Futures.  This application comes available in December of each year at www.FloridaStudentFinancialAid.org

By the way – these applications are not just for high school seniors.  Any person, regardless of age, who would like assistance with college funding should fill out these applications each year.

FAFSA has put together a series of videos to help you get started – you can find the first one right HERE!

~to your success


(Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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