Financial Aid FAQ

How do I apply for loans in my state?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) serves as the single application for financial aid at all universities and colleges and it covers all federal, state and college and university financial aid programs. The only loans not covered are private student loans which you would look for only in emergency.

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Which FAFSA form should I use?
Every authority on the subject recommends that you use the online FAFSA application, which will be processed faster, is less likely to have errors and saves on paper. If you can not use this form, a local university or college will have the paper form available.

How will I know if I am eligible for financial aid?
More than 70% of students receive financial aid from the US federal government. It will not take you long to fill out the FAFSA. Once you calculate the EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) you will have a good idea of your eligibility for student assistance

I don't think I'll be eligible. Should I still apply?
Yes. School is more expensive than you might think. There is more fin aid available than you might think. You may even be able to get scholarships of which you are not aware.

When should I apply for financial aid?
You apply for financial aid at the same time you are applying for admission to college or university. Each school may have different filing procedures and deadlines, so beware. A general rule is, apply as soon after January 1st as you can. You do not have to be admitted to any college or university to apply for financial aid (only to receive your award).

What will happen after I apply?
A full description is available here. ["Student loan application process"] But in summary: the FAFSA and other forms you submit will determine your "need." Need is determined by subtracting your EFC from the total cost of attendance (COA). From there, the student aid office of the school you choose to attend will put together the best package of loans, grants and scholarships. They will give you this information in an Award letter.

What is the difference between grants, scholarships, bursaries and fellowships?
Grants are usually based on financial need (in most quarters that is) and they are strictly academic. Scholarships are based on merit and they apply to pursuits beyond academic, including sports and athletic scholarships, music scholarships, etc. Fellowships are given to graduate students. Bursary is a more British term that is interchangeable with the term "scholarship." None of these require repayment.

What if I am awarded a private scholarship after I receive my award letter?
You must report this to the financial aid office of your school. They may need to adjust your award accordingly.

What if I decide to quit school?
You will need to make arrangements concerning your loans, interest deferment and more, with your financial aid office.

What if I need more money than I am awarded?
You may be able to do some negotiation, particularly if your financial information has changed since you submitted your forms. There are also other loans, including private loans and unsubsidized loans.

Can I compare fin aid packages from different schools?
Yes you can. However, be certain to compare all factors, especially tuition and cost of attendance.

When do I get my money?
Usually, the money will be given to you during the registration process or at the start of each semester.

Do I need to fill out the FAFSA every year?
Yes. Your awards may change dramatically, in fact, even though all of your financial information does not change. This may be due to any of a number of factors including changes to the law.

How do I apply for a Stafford loan?
You complete the FAFSA and the school's aid office will determine your eligibility. You will borrow either directly through the school or through a lending agency, depending on the status of your school.

How do I get a Pell grant?
Fill out the FAFSA to qualify.

Does it matter which lender I select?
Absolutely. Don't be fooled into thinking that the bank with which you now deal will give you the best rates. There are a number of banks that specialize in student loans. On the other hand, you may want to plan to consolidate all your loans once you graduate. Read more about loan consolidation [Student loan consolidation].

How do I get work study?
In most cases, work study programs are offered as part of your financial aid package. If you did not get work study and you were hoping for it, contact the financial aid office of the school.

Who is ultimately responsible for my student loans?
You - not your parents, not the government and not anyone else. Parents are responsible for PLUS loans and other loans they take out in their own name-but that's all.

I am also a parent. Can I get financial aid to cover childcare costs?
You can contact your financial aid office to find out if they have any assistance programs for parents. Many colleges and universities have Childcare programs with limited number of openings. If they have no room, they may be able to direct you to other local openings.

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