Archive for the ‘Federal Aid’ Category

“What information do I need to complete the FAFSA?” “Am I a dependent or independent student?” “Who do I list as my parent?”

These are all valid questions that may come up as you work through the financial aid process. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid has several resources available to help answer these questions and many more. Here are a few resources that may help ease the process for you:

FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
Completing the FAFSA
What Information Do I Need When I Fill Out the FAFSA?
Am I Dependent or Independent?
Who is My “Parent” When I Fill Out the FAFSA?
What to Expect After You Fill Out and Submit the FAFSA.

For more resources and informational videos, visit the Office of Federal Student Aid’s Resources page and their Youtube channel.

Don’t miss your college’s priority filing deadline! The federal deadline is June 30, 2016, but your financial aid office will need the results much sooner. Missing your college’s deadline could mean the loss of thousands of dollars of financial aid. For a list of FAFSA priority deadlines for Virginia colleges, click here.
Complete your FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.


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Interested in finding out more about the financial aid opportunities available to Virginians? Check out ECMC’s 2013-14 guide (http://www.ecmc.org/details/opportunities.html), which highlights federal financial aid programs and provides guidance about the financial aid process.

Known as the Opportunities Preparing for College Guide and Workbook, this booklet explains the types of financial aid available and eligibility requirements for federal programs. It also includes information about applying for financial aid and estimating college costs as well as a timeline for what students and parents/families should be doing to successfully navigate through the financial aid process.

Both English and Spanish versions are available.


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Have you subtracted your financial aid awards from your college tuition bill to find that you still have a remaining balance? If so, don’t panic!

Many colleges offer convenient tuition payment plans to assist you with paying your remaining balance. These plans usually divide your semester costs (tuition, on-campus housing, dining, and fees) into manageable installments throughout the semester.

To find out what payment plan options are available at your college, contact your college’s student accounting or financial aid office. Make sure to ask about requirements and costs for participation as payment plans may require that you apply by a certain deadline and pay a small fee to enroll. When reviewing your options, choose a plan that best fits your needs.

Also, be aware of and prepared to pay for expenses that are most likely not included on your bill, such as books, supplies, and off-campus housing (if applicable). If you need assistance paying these expenses, contact your college’s financial aid office to inquire about alternatives.

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It’s no April Fool’s joke! Sallie Mae has announced that it’s lowering the top interest rate on its fixed rate student loans for graduate students effective April 1, 2013. According to news reports, the financial services company will offer a fixed rate on its Smart Option student loan for graduate students that ranges between 5.75 and 8.875 percent.  The top variable rate on the loan will fall to 7.5% from 10.125%. The lowest rate will remain at 2.25%.

This is great news for many graduate students, especially those who are expecting to receive acceptance and financial aid award letters from graduate schools in the coming weeks. But be cautious. Individuals in need of financial assistance should weigh all available financing options, rates, fees, and total costs before settling on a specific loan. Students should consider the field they plan to enter, as well as how much they will earn once they graduate.

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We’re not the only ones excited about filling out the FAFSA! There are financial aid professionals ready to help you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at more than 50 Super Saturday locations across Virginia. Check out this video to learn more about why it’s important to submit the FAFSA. Then visit vasfaa.org to more about the February 9th Super Saturday events.

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Video About Federal Aid

Video About Federal Aid

See why students are going to college and how federal student aid can help.

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Failure to fully complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) disqualifies students from being considered for federal grants and subsidized loans. So if your parents refuse to fill out the FAFSA, what are your options?

First, we recommend working with your college financial aid office to become eligible for unsubsidized federal student loans. You can also help your parents understand why it is important that they help you complete the FAFSA. For a list of strategies and an explanation of parental responsibilities and risks, visit FinAid.org at www.finaid.org/otheraid/parentsrefuse.phtml.

Another option is to work with financial aid administrators to receive a “dependency override,” which means you meet the definition of a dependent student, but your application will be processed as an independent student instead. If you are under the age of 24, an undergraduate student, not married, not a veteran, not an orphan, not emancipated by the court, not homeless, and do not have a legal dependent of your own, then by federal rules you are considered a dependent student and must include your parent’s information on the federal FAFSA. However, financial aid administrators have the authority to grant a “dependency override” in cases involving unusual circumstances.

Please note that federal rules provide strict guidance on who can be considered an independent student. For example, a student cannot become independent just because his or her parents are unwilling to help pay for the student’s college education. FinAid.org provides more information about how dependency override decisions are made on its website at www.finaid.org/educators/pj/dependencyoverrides.phtml.

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