So, you made it past all the applications, tests, and preparation that go into applying for college. Congratulations! Now time to think about logistics—how are you going to pay for your higher education? While many college-level students are lucky to have financial support from their family, many are not as fortunate. Attending university is expensive, so it’s important to know your budget and understand your payment options. Luckily, financial aid is available in a few different forms. The most common types of financial aid eligibility applications (excluding scholarships) are:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This federal form determines a student’s eligibility for federal aid. It’s required by most state and college financial aid programs because the majority of student financial aid in the U.S. each year comes from federal funds. Students can begin filing FAFSA forms January 1, 2015.
- CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: This online service allows students to provide a complete financial profile and family circumstances so that colleges can dispense aid to the most economically deserving students. Some colleges may require the PROFILE as early as October.
- State & Institutional Forms: The process of granting financial aid varies from place to place, so some colleges may require specific state or institutional forms that are different from the FAFSA. These forms may also be necessary for scholarship applications.
While student aid and non-federal loans for full-time equivalent students has increased by 33 percent over the last decade, the total student financial aid has decreased every school year since 2010-2011. The government’s share of student aid decreased from 74 percent in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years to 71 percent in 2012-2013.
For more information on financial aid, visit studentaid.ed.gov. If you are not eligible for any financial aid, remember that student loans are also an option. For local financial aid assistance, Sandweiss Test Prep recommends Paula Bishop Financial Aid for College Advisor.
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