Applying for financial aid can be a frustrating, tedious process, and most of us don’t have the time to read 200-page books or watch long videos on how to approach financial aid. Here are ten smart, simple tips to help you make it through and end up with more money. If reading this still seems too complicated, Frank will prepare all your forms for you for free.
1. Complete the FAFSA®
The FAFSA® is a free application for federal student aid and it is one of the most crucial components of your search for more financial aid. Even if you don’t think you are qualified to receive federal granted aid, the FAFSA® can help you receive financial aid offers from your future University and state. Filling out the FAFSA® is one of the first steps you should take when beginning the financial aid process. New services like Frank offer smart, simple financial aid by filing FAFSA® for you to guarantee your maximum financial aid package.
2. File Early
Not only should you complete the FAFSA®, but you should do it fast. Institutional and state granted aid is often given out on a first come, first serve basis, so the sooner you can get it done, the better. Besides, it’s a good idea to finish the form in January and February so you can assure that you won’t miss any important deadlines. Even if you haven’t completed your taxes by the time January rolls around, you can submit the FAFSA® using estimated numbers.
3. Submit College Financial Aid Applications
While the FAFSA® is often required by University financial aid offices, it is usually not the only form you must fill out to receive University granted aid. Contact your future University’s financial aid office to assure that you have filled out all of the necessary forms in order to be considered for University granted aid. Some universities might use the College Board Financial Aid Profile to make it easier for you.
4. Be Aware of Deadlines
One of the most common reasons students miss out on receiving financial aid is because they miss important deadlines. The window given by the federal government to complete FAFSA® is January 1 — June 30. However, different states and universities often have different deadlines, so make sure you are aware of these deadlines and have a plan of action to turn your financial aid forms in on time! Contact your college’s financial aid office or look at their website to find out specific deadlines.
5. Transfer Money
The federal government considers your assets at a lower rate than you child’s, so before you begin the financial aid process, you should consider moving money out of your child’s savings account and putting it into your account. If your child is considered dependent, the government assumes they can use at least 20% of their assets to pay for college. Your child’s assets count for more, so keep that in mind when starting this process.
6. Appeal Your Financial Aid Award
Once you receive your financial aid offer, you can appeal it. While the FAFSA® and other financial aid forms try to understand each student’s financial needs, it’s often hard for them to get the full picture. If you have experienced anything that you think could possibly help financial aid offices better understand your situation and financial needs, you should think about appealing your award. In order to receive the most financial aid you can, you want to make sure you are appealing properly and efficiently.
7. Fill out the FAFSA® completely and correctly
While it may seem obvious to submit a completed form, it is easy to make a mistake or two on the long, complicated FAFSA®. Before you submit your form, double check to make sure you have completed all required sections of the form, and that you have done so correctly. Turning in an incomplete or incorrect form can cause you to get pushed to the back of the line. And that is a very, very long line.
8. Don’t Try to Trick the System
Do not put any untrue or altered information on your FAFSA®. Universities are good at catching it, and doing so can lead to major fines and punishments. Be honest when filling out the form, as you can always appeal your award letter if you believe your current situation was not fairly represented based on the questions asked in the form.
9. Be Prepared
The FAFSA® can be a tricky form to complete, so you want to make sure you are filling it out right. It is important to have all the right documents on hand so you can efficiently and correctly fill out FAFSA®. If you and your child are prepared and have a good understanding of what this form requires, you will have a much more smooth and pleasant experience. Plus, you will have a smaller chance of making any mistakes when filling out the form.
10. Compare Offers
Student’s tend to apply to a variety of Universities and along with that comes a variety of financial aid packages. Once you receive you award letters, you will want to compare your offers from different schools to make sure you are receiving the best financial aid you possibly can. Once you have compared offers, you will have a better idea of what University may be your best option.