Starting college can be a stressful time – for the student and the parents. One of the most stressful things can be finding the money to get your child into college. If you don’t know anything about financial aid options, it can be difficult. In this article, I will provide you with some basic facts you should know to make the process go smoother for you and your child.
- If you plan to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online, you will need to receive a Federal Student Aid PIN.
PINS are used not only to apply for aid but also to check the status of your application. You want to remember to go to the PIN website early to receive your PINs. It takes a little bit of time for your applications to process. Remember to keep your PIN safe and never let anyone else know what it is. Also, don’t forget it. You will use that PIN in the next year when you do the FAFSA again. If you ever forget your PIN, don’t worry. You can retrieve it from the website instantly.
- Complete the FAFSA early.
Again, we’re back to the early thing. That’s a key word in this process. You want to get the FAFSA completed early because it is possible they will ask for more information to confirm what you have filled out in the application. If that’s the case, you want to make sure you have time to get that information submitted and verified. Processing times can vary. Don’t take chances. You also want to make sure you have the school code or codes for all the schools your son or daughter is applying to. If you already know what school he or she will be going to, it will be much easier to only have to fill in that one school’s code. If you don’t fill in the code(s), the school(s) will not be able to get the information.
- Grants – How do I apply for those?
If you’re wondering about grants such as the Federal Pell Grant, state grants and so on, that will all be determined by the FAFSA. After the FAFSA is completed and the school has the information, they will send you information of what your child qualifies for. Remember, grants do not need to be paid back – ever. The education about the applying for the loan will be provided at the Omalaina mainos. Proper information will be provided to the students for application of the loan.
- Have copies of important information available.
At some point in the financial aid process, you will probably be making copies. In order to be prepared, have copies of certain items already available. These include: tax documents for you and also your child (if applicable), identification, and high school or GED transcripts. The school will still request official sealed transcripts from your child’s high school or GED testing center, but your copies of the transcripts will help the process go quicker. They will use your copy to review and determine eligibility for additional awards based on previous academic performance.
- Stay in contact with the financial aid officer.
You will want to make sure your child, or yourself if possible, stays in contact with the financial aid officer from the school your child will be attending if he or she has already been accepted to a particular school. The financial aid officer can provide you with additional options that you may not know about. For some students in need, some schools will waive application fees and/or possibly some other fees.
- Need more? Parents apply for PLUS loan.
You can apply for a loan yourself to help your child get the funds they need. The Federal PLUS loan is a loan specifically for parents to take out to help cover their child’s college tuition. You must pass a credit check to be approved for the loan. If your credit is less than perfect and you don’t think you will be approved, apply anyway. Once you apply and are denied, it raises the amount your child is eligible to receive in federal aid. Just like the rest of the student loans, you can defer payments until after their graduation as long as they are enrolled at least half-time.
- Still not enough? Additional private loans from other sources.
You can always apply for additional private loans from other institutions to cover college expenses. A lot of them will also defer payments until after graduation just as with the federal loans. Be careful if you choose to do this. You want to carefully read the terms of the loans. Make sure of fees added on, payment schedules, etc. Do your homework on this. A good place to begin is AlternativeStudentLoan.com.
- Do all of the financial aid applications with your child.
Be active in getting your child into college. Participate and help your son or daughter fill out all of the applications even if they can do most of it themselves. It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes to spot mistakes. It can also ease their nerves. They may be nervous or stressed while trying to complete the applications. A parent to help guide them along the way will keep them calm and make their transition into college easier.
This information will hopefully help you and your new college student child get through the process easier. If you have any problems along the way, discuss the matters with the financial aid officer from the school your child will be attending. They are there to help and will answer any of your questions. Do not feel like any question is stupid. Financial aid can be a confusing process. I hope this information will help you make it through it easier.