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Posts Tagged ‘financial aid’

“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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There’s a reason the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has “Free” in its title – you shouldn’t have to pay money to get money! When completing the FAFSA, be sure to go to fafsa.ed.gov and avoid any websites containing “fafsa” and ending in “.com” in its URL.

For information on how to avoid financial aid and scholarship scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission online at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0082-scholarship-and-financial-aid-scams.

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Many of you will be heading to college in the fall, and it’s important for you to get to know the financial aid administrators on your campus. Who are these folks and how can they help you?

According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), financial aid administrators are professionals whose primary goal is to help students achieve their educational potential by providing appropriate financial resources. The financial aid staff on your campus should be able to provide you with information about:

  • The types of financial aid available at your institution;
  • Financial aid application deadlines;
  • Procedures to help students with unexpected hardships; and
  • How much aid you are qualified to receive and when you can expect to receive it.

To learn more about financial aid administrators and how they can help you, visit the NASFAA web site. Or look up the financial aid office at your college or university, and make an appointment to visit this fall when you arrive on campus. You can even check out the US Department of Education’s blog to find a list of 5 Questions to Ask the Financial Aid Office as You Head Back to School.

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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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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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Tuition assistance for college students took the national spotlight this week during the State of the Union address when President Obama called on Congress to make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The President said that permanently extending the college tuition tax credit, which is currently worth $10,000 for four years of higher education, is “the right thing to do.” 

After proposing a five-year freeze in discretionary spending on nondefense programs during his address, President Obama went on to say that he would spare education and research from the freeze and spending cuts.

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine,” he said. “It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.”

For more information about the 2011 State of the Union address, visit the White House web site.

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Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid is a comprehensive publication on student financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. Grants, loans, and work-study are three major forms of aid available through the Federal Student Aid office, and this resource provides information about those programs and how to apply for them. Click here to link to the 2010-2011 Guide to Federal Student Aid in English or in Spanish.

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