If you are planning to enter college in the next year and you also want to learn what financial aid options are available to you and your family, you MUST get busy and complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) now! The FAFSA you will complete depends on when you plan to enter school – deadlines for completion and tips to complete the FAFSA are widely available. Check out the Federal Student Aid website for tips on how to complete the FAFSA correctly. Keep in mind there are many reliable and free resources to assist you – above all, do not pay for services to complete the FAFSA. Now, if you are thinking, well I just don’t want to borrow money, let’s talk briefly about what completing the FAFSA could open up to you and your family in terms of support for your time in college. You may think that filling out a FAFSA only offers you the chance to borrow money to go to college. And, as much news as there is these days regarding the difficulty former college students are experiencing with paying back college loans, you may think that this is just not for you. Don’t let this deter you from researching what types of financial aid may be available for your situation.True, a portion of what the FAFSA will determine is whether or not your family eligible for federal loans to attend college. But there are other forms of financial aid available that completing the FAFSA may offer to you. Don’t leave opportunities on the table by not taking advantage of those even if loans are not available to you or what you want to do. Here’s a list of the other types of financial aid that the FAFSA may determine you are eligible to receive:
-Work study programs
-Need based scholarships – those that include financial need in their eligibility criteria for loans.
In addition, be sure to check with the college you wish to attend to be sure it participates in the Federal Student Aid programs. Ask questions to learn more about what other forms of aid may be available through your preferred college or university. There may be separate applications to complete for scholarships or other special state or school specific programs that may also give you more opportunity to defray those out of pocket – now or later – costs to complete your college education.
Take the time, make the effort. It’s worth it!