College Financial Aid: The Future Is Now!

It’s Time to Fill Out a College Financial Aid Form for Fall 2015

The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the Fafsa, became available online on Jan. 1. This is the starting point for students and families seeking federal aid. It is used by most states and colleges as part of the student aid process. The form collects financial and personal information about students, and their parents if they are dependents, to determine eligibility for scholarships, grants, work-study awards and loans. It must be completed every school year for students seeking aid.

Ann Carrns wrote an article recently in the New York Times that offered several good pieces of advice and information.

Filing the Fafsa as soon as possible after Jan. 1 increases applicants’ chances of getting the best financial aid packages for which they are eligible. Those who file the form from January through March receive, on average, twice the amount of grant money as those who file later, said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the financial aid website Edvisors.com.

Federal Educational Financial Aid

To say the cost of higher education is daunting is an understatement. Here in Connecticut, the yearly sticker prices for a sample of schools range from $12,535 at Charter Oak State College, to $61,333 at Yale (source: CNNMoney). Help is available and since the Federal Government is responsible for much of the financial assistance, a good place to start looking is the U.S. Dept. of Education.

The material below is reprinted from the U.S. Dept. of Education, Federal Student Aid web site. Read it for a quick overview and links to a number of  web sites and documents to assist your search for financial aid. But be sure to visit the source web site for the complete story on what financial aid might be available to help YOU.

 

Aid and Other Resources From the Federal Government

The federal government offers a number of financial aid programs. Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (discussed below), you also might get

The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 15 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees,room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do!

Federal student aid includes:

  • Grants—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund)
  • Loans— borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
  • Work-Study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school

Use FAFSA4caster to get an estimate of how much aid you might receive from the U.S. Department of Education.

Apply for federal student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM). And remember, the first F in “FAFSA” stands for “free”—you shouldn’t pay to fill out the FAFSA!

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