Many different types of financial aid are available to you in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans. With billions of dollars at stake, it’s important to start the search process early and apply on time. Follow these guidelines to apply for financial aid:
Three or four years before I plan to start college…
-Review high school course work and activities. Colleges will look for challenging courses, a good GPA, and extracurricular activities like sports, volunteer work, and community involvement.
-Take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) to prepare for the standardized tests (SAT and ACT) that you will take later. If you do well on the PSAT, you may be eligible to receive a National Merit Scholarship.
Two years before you plan to start college…
-Start researching your financial aid options by talking with your career counselor and researching grants and scholarships through books and the Internet.
-Start planning to take the SAT and/or ACT, depending on what your college requires.
-During your college visits, meet with a financial aid officer to find out what types of aid are available.
As soon as possible after January 1 of the year you start college…
-Contact the financial aid offices of the colleges of your choice for deadlines and additional documents they require
-Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Available at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov, this form is your key to most financial aid and all federal and state grants and loans. When you fill out your FAFSA, be sure to list all the colleges you’re interested in attending (up to six), even if you haven’t been accepted yet. Be sure to keep copies of all the forms you submit.
-Complete your tax returns as soon as possible so you have accurate tax information for your FAFSA
-Complete the CSS Financial Aid Profile if required by your college
– Find out which financial aid applications your college choices require and when the forms are due.
-Send mid-year transcripts to the schools you have applied to.
-About four weeks after you submit your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that contains federal financial aid information. Submit the SAR and, if requested, your tax forms to the Financial Aid Office. Contact each office to make sure your application is complete. Find out what else you need to do to establish and maintain your eligibility for financial aid.
This article is distributed by NextStudent. At NextStudent, we believe that getting an education is the best investment you can make, and we are dedicated to
helping you pursue your education dreams by making college financing as easy as possible. We invite you to learn more about financial aid at http://www.NextStudent.com.