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Archive for the ‘Helpful Links’ 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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April 1 marks the height of decision season for colleges nationwide, a date by which high school seniors will learn whether they’ll be joining the incoming freshmen class. It is also the time of year when students can expect to receive financial aid award letters from the colleges.

 

These letters or emails spell out the details of your financial aid package, which FinAid.org describes as “a collection of different types of financial aid from multiple sources…  intended to help you fill the gap between your ability to pay (your expected family contribution or EFC) and college costs (the cost of attendance or COA).”

 

Be warned: There is no standard format for award letters, so it might be difficult for you to compare awards from different institutions to make sure you are getting the best deal. If you need assistance interpreting and comparing financial aid award letters, check out FinAid.org’s quick reference guide. It includes a discussion of net cost and out-of-pocket cost, a summary of problems and pitfalls with financial aid award letters, a list of questions to ask college financial aid administrators, and a glossary of common terms used on financial aid award letters.

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As March madness builds, you’ll be hearing a lot more from Shaka Smart, coach of the VCU Rams men’s basketball team. Check out his advice about going to college at www.i-am-the-one.com.

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Have you seen the new Opportunities: 2012-13 Virginia Guide to Education After High School?
 
This easy-to-read guidebook highlights all of the financial aid programs funded by the state of Virginia. It explains what types of financial aid are available and the eligibility requirements for state programs.

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Think your financial aid award letter was confusing? You aren’t alone. This recent article from Inside Higher Ed describes how complaints that award notifications are too confusing and difficult to compare has reignited debates about whether colleges should be required to standardize such letters.

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Mark Kantrowitz discusses financial aid myths in this great video from FastWeb.

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