Going to college can often be the best opportunity of your life. In today’s highly competitive workplace, having a college degree will put you ahead of other applicants and make your resume stand out more. Not only will it be great for your career, but going to college is also a great social time in your life, where you will meet new friends and build life-long relationships. The only bad part about college is having to pay for it. It can be difficult to pay for school if you are a college student on your own. Luckily, there are financial aid options available to help those that desire going to school, but maybe aren’t prepared to do so financially. Here are some tips on how to get financial aid for college, which will help you save money and also help you enjoy the experience more.
Expected Family Contribution
One of the first phrases that you’ll want to be familiar with as you enter college is EFC, or expected family contribution. This number represents what your family makes and will greatly determine what you will be able to qualify for in terms of student loans and financial aid. This number can sometimes be a little skewed, as there are plenty of situations where students receive no help from their parents, but are still claimed on their taxes and therefore the student does not receive the benefits they should get. Nonetheless, familiarizing yourself with your EFC level will help you when it comes to knowing what you may qualify for and the money you may be entitled to.
Another site that you will want to familiarize yourself with during your time in college is FAFSA. The Free Application For Federal Student Aid is the go-to place for student loan information and other insights on how to attend college. Not only should you check FAFSA before you begin college, but you will also benefit if you rely on the site throughout your time in college to continually keep up with your loan information. Understanding how the site works and the best way to utilize it will benefit your overall understanding of student loans and financial aid.
With all of the money that you’ll be spending on tuition, books, fees, rent and everything else that it takes to be a student, it may be hard to stomach the idea of paying someone to help you with college. However asking the help of a college financial aid counselor can sometimes actually save you money and help you have a better understanding of the system. These people are paid to help college students who seek out their assistance, and they should try their hardest to help you save money. After all, the more money you save, the more money they can charge you. Financial aid counselors are familiar with new rules regarding college and the best ways to save money when going to school. Seeking their help doesn’t hurt and their advice can be worth it in the long run.
Be Aware Of Deadlines
When it comes to the government, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for missed deadlines. After all, there are hundreds-of-thousands of students applying for student aid each year. You can help yourself greatly by being aware of deadlines that are required for payments and requests for money. Missing a deadline by just a few hours can often mean having to put in a lot of effort to see if there is anything you can do to fix it. And in the worst case, you may be required to wait an entire semester or year before you can even apply again. Save yourself the headache by being aware of the deadlines and apply to them accordingly.
Know Your State
Each state has its own restrictions and regulations when it comes to financial aid requirements. You will want to be familiar with the state that you reside in, as well as the state that you are attending college in. The rules may vary and misunderstanding the rules could be detrimental to the aid that you receive. If you do all of the hard work to get into a school and only mess it up by misunderstanding the rules, you’ll be regretting it until you can reapply. Understanding that each state has its own rules and regulations will better prepare you for what to expect.
With all of the people applying for financial aid, there are likely to be some bumps in the road. Paperwork gets misplaced, information gets lost and things simply happen. Even in today’s world of technology, there is no perfect answer to organize the plethora of applications that are submitted. The more understanding you are to the process, the less likely you are to get stressed about everything and the more smooth of a ride it will be. You can hope for the best and do your all to make sure things go smoothly, but some times things are just out of your hands. If you are willing to accept this and roll with the punches to keep things going in your favor, you’ll have an advantage over people who are continually stressed out about their loans.
Don’t Expect A Free Ride
You can surely find plenty of financial aid that will help lower the cost of college, but by no means should you expect to get enough aid that will allow you to attend school for free. At least, not for the entire time you are at school. The government wants to see people succeed and they also understand that college is a great opportunity to make that happen. Therefore, they will often help people when it means getting to college. But once you are there, you will need to do the other things that it takes to get by as a student. If you want to save more money on school, consider looking for scholarships or other financial reimbursement options. Another method is to get a job and pay for school out of pocket, or use the money you earn to pay for rent, groceries or other necessities, meaning you can take out less for a total student loan amount.
You have worked your entire life to get into college, so the process of receiving aid shouldn’t be something that you shy away from. After all, if you hadn’t prepared accordingly, you probably never would’ve gotten into college as it is. If you keep in mind the information presented here, you can better prepare yourself with the requirements and guidelines needed for getting student aid, making your entire college career much more enjoyable.