As you begin applying for financial aid, remember these helpful tips to maximize the potential of your award:
- Pay attention to the fine print on financial aid applications – Gathering the right data and reading the fine print of each application will help you to get the most from your financial aid package. FAFSA errors are common and could mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in aid! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure to read each application thoroughly to avoid any mistakes.
- Be proactive and don’t wait for the deadlines – You don’t have to wait to be accepted to start talking to colleges about your financial aid case. Colleges need to be aware of certain exceptions and special circumstances that might have inflated your family’s income from the previous year. Don’t wait until the last minute to contact them though! Institutions become overwhelmed with financial aid inquiries and concerns as the May 1 deadline fast approaches, making them unable to devote enough attention and funds to your case. You might be having more than one conversation about your financial aid and it’s important to contact colleges before they promise the money to someone else.
- Know your award and don’t be afraid to appeal – Upon receiving your award, make sure you understand what makes up your package – are your scholarships and grants only for one year or for all four? Does your merit-based scholarship require a minimum GPA? Do you need to renew your loans every year? How many work-study hours are you required to work each week? The College Board offers financial aid tips to help you understand your award and compare it to ones that you received from other institutions. If you are not satisfied with your financial aid award, don’t be afraid to appeal and ask for more money. Financial Aid Directors are usually more than happy to speak with students and parents, so if the representative isn’t providing you with the information that you’re looking for, ask to speak to someone higher up in the office. You never know what they might be able to promise you.
Comparing Financial Aid Award
Tips on how to compare your financial aid awards from multiple institutions.
Scholarships and Grants
Everything you need to know about applying for grants and scholarships to help pay for college, as well as what is available to you.
National Student Loan Data System
The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid. NSLDS receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs. NSLDS Student Access provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants so that recipients of Title IV Aid can access and inquire about their Title IV loans and/or grant data.
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