Financial Aid 411
Cringing at the thought of paying for your child's college education? Often times even the best laid out plan, 529, or other savings, is not enough to cover all the costs.The financial aid process is a different experience from one family to the next. Here are some key things to remember as you embark upon this sometimes overwhelming journey.
Start planning early. Explore tuition and total costs of prospective colleges. Complete Net Price Calculator's to get approximations on what the cost may be for you.
Go to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website www.fafsa.ed.gov and apply for a PIN. It is necessary to file online.
- File your taxes as early as possible. The earlier the better as many colleges and universities have financial aid deadlines on or before March 1st.
- You may be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This allows the FAFSA to electronically retrieve needed information directly from your tax forms.
- Several colleges also require the CSS Profile form to be completed in order to receive non-federal financial aid. Visit www.collegeboard.org/css
- Apply for financial aid whether you think you qualify or not. Many scholarships that are based on merit still require that you complete the FAFSA.
- Consider all avenues for scholarship and grant monies. Check with your employer, your social organizations, your place of worship, etc.
- Do not hesitate to ask for help. Check with your child's school for financial aid workshops or special days designated to assist families with the process.
Beware of financial aid scams. There is never a fee to file the FAFSA. The CSS Profile has a $25 fee (waivers can be applied). Never pay for a scholarship or financial aid service. More helpful information can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov.