You can afford college: How to apply for federal aid
If you want financial aid for college, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Here's what you need to know.
This post comes from Kimberly Winkowitsch at partner site Money Talks News.
With higher living costs and fewer unskilled jobs available for Americans, it makes good sense to go to college. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics says enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities increased 37 percent between 2000 and 2010.
But affording a quality higher education can seem like a big obstacle. And the financial aid process can be very overwhelming and even intimidating for people who have never been through it. As a result, many parents leave the college planning to overworked school counselors, which leaves students with much less money for college.
It really isn't as difficult as it seems to get money for school, though. There are great options for financial aid out there. With a little help finding and navigating those options, you can afford college or trade school for you or your children.
Free application for student aid
The government makes federal student aid available in the form of grants that don't need to be paid back, student loans that must be paid back after graduation, and work study programs that provide job opportunities to help students earn extra money. Most colleges and universities participate in the Federal Student Aid program.
Your first step in obtaining financial aid is to complete the FAFSA, which stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application can be completed completely online at this website.
Before you can complete this application, though, you will need to get together these things:
- A personal identification number from this site.
- Your Social Security number.
- Tax returns. If these are not yet completed, you can use your W-2 forms to show your income from previous years. Self-employed people can make an estimate.
- A good idea of the universities that you want to send the information to.
Parents of any income level can fill out the FAFSA, so don't think that you must be low income to qualify for aid. In some cases, such as if you are here working with a green card or have battered spouse status, it is possible to get financial aid without being an U.S. citizen. Check out the qualifications here if you are unsure about your eligibility.
There are a few things you should know about filling out your FAFSA. The colleges take your FAFSA information and grant you financial aid on a first come, first served basis. This means that the sooner you can get your FAFSA completed and turned in to the schools, the better. (This government site explains how schools determine how much aid you need.)
That may mean filling out your application before you have your tax returns. If you do this, the school may flag you and require you to fill out an income verification worksheet. In my opinion, it is well worth filling out an extra short form to have the peace of mind of getting FAFSA completed early.
Also, if you have limited time to work on the application, you can save your form and come back to complete it later. And once you submit it, you can come back and add, for instance, information from your tax returns. Your school may even go in and make changes to your application.
This flexibility makes FAFSA much less intimidating than if it were a one-time process that couldn't be changed. I used to worry that the FAFSA police would come storming in my door if I made an error filling out my form. I found it was much easier to fill out than I had imagined.
When you return to the FAFSA website to complete your forms for the following years of school, the process is much easier, because the system saves your information from the previous years. All that you will have to do is update your information.
With your FAFSA completed, you will have more time to spend on scholarship applications and preparing for college. Take a deep breath and plunge right in. It's easier than you think.
More on Money Talks News:
yeah right, I can't get fedral aid....I make to much....so i get to pay full price...then I get kicked in the balls because i make to much and don't get to take the tuition as a tax deduction....what a bunch of BS. Last year my take home from my job was only 53% after all taxes, State, Local, Fed, Payroll, Social Security...Yeah right I am one of those filthy rich guys who screwed the "Folks" to get rich....I need to be punished for working my way through school, working two jobs to pay off my debts becaue Jimmy Carter put on a grain embargo. and damm near broke me....When the price of corn and soybeans went down 45%. I ended up selling everything to pay my banker and lein holders.
I am sick and tired of working for those who are sitting on their asses expecting the govt to bail them out.....with school grants, welfare, ADC, Earned income tax credit....URM prefferences.....
Why should Anyone get federal aid? Why are my tax dollars being used to inflate the cost of an education for the entire population.......... except the parasites getting college welfare? That's what it is, you know. WELFARE!
Simply put, if you aren't smart enough to get a scholarship, you don't belong there! And NO ONE should be getting welfare to go to college. period.
Now go ahead and blast me for pointing out that you are the same welfare parasites that you like talk badly about
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