Financing your education is an important and sometimes complicated process. Making informed decisions and managing your finances are crucial to your education and life.
Filing for Financial Aid
File for Federal Financial Aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) accurately, and on-time to be considered for all the aid you can. The first day you can apply for aid for the 2012-13 school year is January 1, 2012.
* Inquire at the schools you are interested in and find out what the deadline is and if any other additional forms are necessary.
* Ask your school of interest what possible scholarships are offered, what is the application process and deadlines.
When you complete the FAFSA beware of look alike FAFSA sites that charge a fee to complete a FAFSA. The FAFSA is free to apply. The electronic FAFSA is located at:
FAFSA Web Site
You will need a PIN to file your FAFSA. If you don’t already have one, go to:
US Department of Education PIN Registration
What Happens Next?
The school(s) you have listed on your FASFA will receive your electronic FAFSA information from the federal processor. If you have completed all necessary forms they will consider you for all possible financial aid, including; grants, scholarship, and loan programs Then they will mail an offer of financial aid.
Read this carefully!!! Note any documents you need to complete the process and any associated deadlines.
How can I compare offers?
Schools have different costs and often offer different aid offers. One of the best methods of trying to compare is to see what your loan borrowing costs would be at different schools. It might require looking at your award letter, seeing the costs you may inquire such as tuition, fees, room, board, personal and subtracting all offers of grants and then seeing what your possible loan borrowing would be to attend that school. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a new website where you can compare costs between school. The website is new should give you some idea of comparison shopping for your higher education.
Does Cost Matter in Choosing?
Yes, a kind of analysis should be done to determine what your anticipated borrowing might be at a school you are interested in for all four years and then look at what potential salary you might get.
You are looking at possibly majoring in a field to be a teacher. What might your expect to make? Perhaps a starting salary in the mid-$30,000 range. After taxes you might see a range of $1,800 to $2,200 in take home pay.
Lets say your had to borrow $45,000 to obtain that degree. For a standard repayment plan of 10 years that would be approximately $518 per month to pay that loan for a total payment of $62,143 to pay that loan off.
That leaves an approximate range of $1,300 to $1,500 to pay rent, food, credit card bills, etc. Thank about that!
Lets say you decide to repay that loan over 30 years which is possible. That lowers the payment to $293 per month for 30 years and to pay that loan off you would pay approximately $105,608. That is more then twice the amount your borrowed.
Thinking about your choice of school before you choose could save you a lifetime of money management difficulties! Borrow wisely and only what you need!
Can I negotiate an offer of aid? Yes, but make an appointment with your financial aid office, bring receipts, proof, and think clearly what you want to say as justification of why you should be eligible for more money.
Research and look for outside scholarships and awards. I advise students to avoid outside consultants that promise to find scholarships for them. These firms often charge a fee and usually provide a list of possible awards a student can find on their own for no fee. Students often need to register and provide information for the search. These can often take several minutes with the results of possible awards/addresses a student can contact.
* Some free sites to search for scholarship opportunities are;
The College Board
Financial Aid Hints
1. File your FAFSA by your schools' deadline.
2. If you and your parents have not filed your tax return, estimate as accurately as possible your taxable information for completing the FAFSA. When you do file your tax return update the FAFSA information online if it differs. If you have filled taxes and are eligible use the IRS retrival to input your income on the FAFSA you should do so.
3. Make sure you use the correct Federal School Code(s)
4. Make sure you sign the FAFSA if filling a paper application or process the signature with the electronic application.
5. If you are a NYS resident you will be directed to the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website after completing the FAFSA to apply for the NYS grant TAP. Do not forget or assume you are done after the FAFSA and not complete the HESC TAP application.
6) Avoid financial aid consultants who promise finding awards or obtaining better aid packages than you could get yourself.
Managing Your Finances
Evaluate your own financial status
How financially fit are you? Obtain your credit reports. Alternative loans and Graduate PLUS Loans are based upon your credit history. Review your credit card bills, cellphone, personnel expenses, loans, car payments, insurance payments, etc. What part of these expenses do you truly need?
Financial aid will assist with your educational expenses. They do not cover car payments, credit cards, and other consumer debt obligations.
Investigate what resources you have at your disposal to help pay for your education. Have you saved or invested for your education? Do family members have resources you can utilize for your education? Do you have tuition remission from your employer?
If you find difficulty in resolving your current debt/credit issues, it is better to identify and resolve personal financial issues sooner rather then later.
Other Important Links
NASFAAA for Students and Parents
US Department of Education
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Federal Student Aid Ombudsman
Federal Trade Commission
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
Selective Service System
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau