As tuition rates increase every year, paying for classes and books can seem daunting. Fortunately, financial aid and scholarships are available to make college more affordable.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Students considering enrollment in an online or on-campus degree program should complete a FAFSA form. FAFSA determines student eligibility for federal aid, and colleges, universities and lending organizations use it when awarding scholarships and loans. Complete your FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students should complete FAFSA annually for an accurate measure of need.
You need your tax return from the previous year when completing your FAFSA. Students considered a dependent on their parents’ tax return should use that to complete the FAFSA.
You need to specify which colleges and universities you are interested in attending so that the schools will receive a copy of your financial need assessment. Institutions use this to determine eligibility and need for institutional financial support.
Be mindful of FAFSA deadlines so that you do not have to postpone your education. Once you submit your FAFSA form, it will be reviewed and you will receive notification of financial aid and scholarship eligibility from the federal government and your prospective institution(s).
Students ineligible for federal financial support may still qualify for other forms of financial aid. Work with your institution’s financial aid office to complete forms for additional types of financial aid and scholarships that may be available for online students.
Paying for Your Education
Financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available for students of various need levels and demographics. Research scholarship opportunities for specific areas of study, geographic location, family college history and more. Many scholarship applications ask for a copy of your FAFSA. By understanding necessary information and filling out applications properly the first time, students can apply for multiple scholarships, expanding the possibility of receiving award funds.
Students who do not qualify for federal financial aid or scholarships can apply for student loans from both federal and private institutions. The Stafford Loan is a federal program that provides a fixed-rate loan for students who attend school at least part time. Become familiar with the payment terms and when repayments must start.
You have many options to pay college tuition. Completing your FAFSA is the best way to start. And remember, the most important aspect of applying for financial aid is to apply early.