You got into college! Congratulations! Now comes the hardest part of college, forking over a bunch of money for it. Colleges and universities are great, both for knowledge and experience, but they can be expensive and more often than not you will need some financial aid to attend them. Based on what I have been through I wanted to provide you with 5 tips and things to think about regarding financial aid.
1.) Contact the College/University Financial Aid Office: The office of financial aid is there to help, plain and simple. When I was trying to figure out what I should do when I needed help they saved me. They gave me more than enough information on what I needed to do and how I needed to do it along with the timelines involved. They are there for you as a great resource and will help you in any way they can, USE THIS ASSET.
2.) Scholarships and Grants: Don’t think for a second that there is not a scholarship for you. There are thousands of scholarships out there; it’s just a matter of finding them and applying for them. Search the internet, and PLEASE ask the financial aid office. When I asked the financial aid offices what could be out there for me they pointed out numerous scholarships and grants that I might apply for and I ended up saving thousands just for asking for help. So get out there and find those scholarships and grants, they can help you out tremendously.
3.) FAFSA: Before you can receive federal aid, you will need to sign up for federal student aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. It is important to complete this as early as you can and to take your time ensuring that all of the information is correct. For instance something I learned recently was that savings for a college education are considered parents assets and not a students. Again make sure that this is something you complete early so that it can be approved and you receive your money in time.
4.) EARLY, EARLY, EARLY: One of the most important things you can do in these situations is to be early. Not only will you feel better about things being done, but it is so much better especially when dealing with paying for your education. Any holds on your account when you are trying to settle into the new school year are only going to cause headaches you don’t need or want. So be sure to finish all applications and finish anything you need to do well before the deadlines. This includes everything from your FAFSA application to deadlines for scholarships and grants and even to just getting in contact with the financial aid office at the school you will be attending.
5.) Take only what you need: I know it will be tempting, you get offered thousands more than you need and you think to yourself ALL RIGHT, MONEY!!! Well also think about this…it’s not free. You will still have to pay back anything you borrow with interest attached. So while it seems intriguing and awesome at the time, keep in mind that everything will have to be paid back. By all means, if you have living expenses related to school that you need to cover take the aid, but if it’s only for entertainment purposes or for any other similar reason then you can and should decline what you don’t need. Remember to be responsible with these decisions as they are some important ones regarding your collegiate career.
As a student it’s important to know all of the information regarding your aid. So make sure you are involved in the process and get all the information and understand it as well. This is your future and career, so you should have your feet deep in the water at this point. I hope this information was helpful and talk to everyone next week.
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