Having one child who is heading to college can be stressful, but having to help multiple children at the same time can feel like too much to manage. While I can’t save you from a forgotten application deadline or the “how to do your own laundry” lessons, hopefully, I can help make the financial aid part of the process run more smoothly with these tips:
While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the student’s application, we know that parents often play a large role in the process. After all, students who are considered dependent have to provide parental information on the FAFSA form anyway and must have a parent sign it. While we recommend that the student start his or her own FAFSA form, we know that’s not always what happens. With that in mind, we wanted to provide instructions for parents who are starting the FAFSA form on behalf of their child so you can avoid running into issues completing the form.
If you are a parent completing the FAFSA form for your child, follow these steps:
Ah, deadlines. The sworn enemy of students across the nation. When you’re busy with classes, extracurricular activities, and a social life in whatever time you’ve got left, it’s easy to lose track and let due dates start whooshing by. All of a sudden, your 10-page term paper is due in an hour, and you’re only on page 5 (with the help of 26-point type and triple line spacing). We get it.
Nevertheless, we’re here to point out a few critical deadlines that you really shouldn’t miss: those to do with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. By submitting your FAFSA form late, you might be forfeiting big money that can help you pay for college.
If you need financial aid to help you pay for college, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. The 2018–19 FAFSA form was made available as of Oct. 1, 2017. You should fill it out as soon as possible on the official government site, fafsa.gov.
It’ll be easier to complete the FAFSA form if you gather what you need ahead of time. Below is what you’ll need to fill it out.
Everyone’s college experience is unique—and probably not quite what they were expecting, but here are some tried and true tips on how to get through it.
1. Get involved.
This point may be the most overhyped, but it’s still valid. Go to your school’s activities fair if they have one; otherwise, keep your eyes open for opportunities to join different clubs or teams. Joining a club or team can often provide a much-needed relief from your everyday classes or responsibilities, and it’s a great way to meet new people or to try something new! Many schools even have niche groups such as unicycle clubs, quidditch teams (of Harry Potter fame), and virtual reality clubs. If you don’t find a club that aligns with your interests, you can always start your own!
One of the questions we receive most often is: “Why didn’t I get more money for school?” It’s especially frustrating when you have no idea how a school decided on your aid offer. Hopefully, this information will shed some light on how schools calculate your financial aid.
It all starts when you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Once we (Federal Student Aid) process your application (it takes about three days if you submitted it online), we make your information available to all of the schools you listed on it. Each school then uses your FAFSA information to determine how much aid you are eligible to receive at that school. Each school has its own schedule for awarding financial aid. You must check with each school to find out when you can expect to receive an aid offer.
If you didn’t make payments on your federal student loans and are now in default, don’t get discouraged. It may seem like an overwhelming situation, but you have multiple options for getting out of default. Remember, it’s in your best interest to act quickly to resolve the default, because the consequences of default can be severe.
If you have a defaulted federal student loan owned by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), immediately contact ED’s Default Resolution Group. They will help you figure out the best way to resolve the default based on your individual circumstance.
If you’re looking for another way to help pay for college, Federal Work-Study may be a great option for you. Work-study is a way for students to earn money to pay for school through part-time on- (and sometimes off-) campus jobs. The program gives students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while pursuing a college degree. However, not every school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. Schools that do participate have a limited amount of funds they can award to eligible students. This is why it is so important for students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form as early as possible, as some schools award work-study funds on a first-come, first-served basis.
Here are eight things you should know about the Federal Work-Study Program:
The reality of paying for college is that many families find themselves struggling to cover the entire college bill, despite having already filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and receiving federal, state, and school-based financial aid and scholarships. If you find yourself in this position, here are some ideas to consider and places to look to help fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school.
TIP: The financial aid office at your school is an excellent resource. If you didn’t get enough financial aid, contact your school’s financial aid office. They can help you explore your options.