Oklahoma’s Promise Deadline

High school  students: Are you counting the days until your school year is over? Of course you are! But don’t let your summer bliss distract you from one very important deadline. Students in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade must submit their Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship applications by June 30, 2015.

Sophomores, June 30 is your final deadline. Any application not submitted by this deadline will be removed from the application system, and you could miss out on thousands of dollars in scholarship funds that do not have to be paid back. Don’t make this costly mistake! Submit your application right away.

To learn more about Oklahoma’s Promise and the qualifications for receiving the scholarship, visit OKPromise.org and check out the 2014-2015 Application and Instructions.

I’m a Parent. Do I Need an FSA ID Too?

If your student needs your information for the FAFSA, you’ll need to create an FSA ID separate from your student’s FSA ID. You can create an FSA ID, consisting of a username and password, at fsaid.ed.gov. As a parent, your FSA ID will allow you to electronically retrieve your tax information and sign your student’s FAFSA. If you have more than one child completing the application, you can use the same FSA ID for all applications.

After you’ve created an FSA ID, you can update your information on your student’s FAFSA by choosing the option to “Enter the student’s information” from the FAFSA login page. We recommend you create an FSA ID before accessing your student’s FAFSA to help avoid additional steps in the login process.

To learn more about the FSA ID process visit studentaid.gov/fsaid.

Can I Access My FAFSA Without an FSA ID?

Federal Student Aid (FSA) has officially done away with the PIN system. The fastest and easiest way to create a new FAFSA, or to access an existing application, is to first create an FSA ID consisting of a username and password. We recommend you take this step first to avoid additional steps later.

To create an FSA ID visit fsaid.ed.gov, OR from FAFSA.gov:

  1. Choose “Start a New FAFSA” or “Login” from the home page.
  2. Then, select “Enter your (the student’s) FSA ID,” and click the link to “Create an FSA ID”.
  3. From there, follow the prompts to create a secure username, password and security questions with answers that you’ll remember.  For faster processing, be sure to enter your information exactly as it’s registered with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

For more information about the switch from PIN to FSA ID, check out our last post.

Important! FAFSA to Replace Personal Identification Number (PIN) Process

Beginning May 10, 2015, Federal Student Aid will require both new and existing users to create an FSA ID consisting of a username and password to access the following websites: FAFSA on the WebThe National Student Loan Data SystemFederal Direct Consolidation LoansFederal Student Aid and Agreement to Serve. The FSA ID will be used to replace PINs.

Use the following steps to create an FSA ID:

Step 1: When logging in to one of the websites listed above, click the link to create an FSA ID. Only the owner of the FSA ID should create and use the account. Never share your FSA ID.

Step 2: Create a username and password, and enter your email address.

Step 3: Enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, contact information, and challenge questions and answers.

Step 4: If you have a Federal Student Aid PIN, you will be able to enter it and link it to your FSA ID. You can still create an FSA ID if you have forgotten or do not have a PIN.

Step 5: Review your information, and read and accept the terms and conditions.

Step 6: Confirm your email address using the secure code, which will be sent to the email address you entered when you created your FSA ID. Once you verify your email address, you can use it instead of your username to log in to the websites.

For more information about this change, please visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out/pin#fsaid-intro.

You Received an Award Letter. Now What?

It’s award letter season! If you submitted your FAFSA and responded to all requests for information from your college of choice, you should soon receive a financial aid award letter. This letter, which may arrive by email or snail mail, shows the different types of financial assistance you’re eligible to receive to help cover your college expenses. If you haven’t received your letter yet, check with your school to find out how they will send it you. Follow these steps when it arrives:

    1. Read the letter and make sure you fully understand each type of financial aid you’re offered.
    2. Know the cost of your school and, if you are still considering more than one, compare the schools’ award letters.
    3. Decide how much and which types of financial assistance to accept or reject.
      • Accept grants and scholarships first, because they’re considered free money and typically don’t have to be repaid.
      • Loans will have to be repaid. Beyond grants and scholarships, only accept the loans you’ll need to cover your college costs. You don’t have to accept the entire amount offered and, if necessary, you can usually apply for remaining loan funds later in the academic year.
    4. Submit your response on time. Many award letters have deadline dates, so pay attention to the details.

For questions about financial aid, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website at www.studentaid.gov or contact your school’s financial aid office.

It’s Tax Day!!

If you submitted your FAFSA using estimated figures but have now completed your tax return, you need to update your FAFSA to reflect any differences between the estimated amounts you listed and the actual amounts reported on your tax return(s). Here’s what you need to do in order to update your filing status and correct the estimated information:

    1. Log in using your PIN at fafsa.gov.
    2. Click  “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
    3. Change the tax filing status from “Will File” to “Already Completed.”
    4. Enter your updated tax information
      • If eligible, follow FAFSA’s guidance to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import tax information from the federal tax return.
      • If you aren’t eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you must manually enter your tax information to reflect your filed 2014 tax return. Be sure to review all dollar amounts, not just income. Your income tax amounts (IRS Form 1040 – Line 55; 1040A – Line 35; or 1040EZ – Line 10) may need to be corrected, too.
    5. Double check your information and don’t forget to click submit!

What’s Verification?

After you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you should expect to receive correspondence from the school you plan to attend. You may receive an award letter listing all of the financial assistance your school can offer you, or you may be asked to provide additional information or documentation before your financial aid can be determined. You may even be selected for a process called verification.

Verification is the method your school uses to confirm the data provided on your FAFSA is accurate. The federal government requires colleges and universities to verify or confirm the information reported by some students and their parent(s) on this form. There are many reasons why a student is chosen for this process. You may be selected at random, your FAFSA application may be incomplete or your FAFSA may contain contradicting information.

If you’re chosen for verification, don’t fret. This is a common procedure, so be sure to address your school’s requests as soon as possible and update and/or correct your FAFSA as needed. Once the process is complete, your financial aid award should be finalized. If you have questions, contact your school’s financial aid office.

So Many Financial Aid Terms, So Little Time

We know you’re busy preparing for the end of the year, and applying for financial aid for college can feel a bit like taking a course in a different language—especially with so many programs, terms and acronyms to decipher. We’ve compiled a list of common financial aid terms and definitions below to help you save time when completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

    • Cost of Attendance (COA) is usually stated as a yearly figure. It’s comprised of the average expenses for tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, student loan fees and some personal expenses.
    • Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal loan available to students with demonstrated financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The federal government pays the interest on this loan while the student is attending college on at least a half-time basis.
    • Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduate and graduate students. The interest on an unsubsidized loan isn’t paid by the federal government so borrowers are responsible for all interest accrued from the date the loan is disbursed.
    • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated based on the financial information you and your parents provided on the FAFSA. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It’s a number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you’re eligible to receive.
    • Financial Need is defined as the difference between what it costs you to attend a college and your Expected Family Contribution. Many forms of financial assistance are based on your ability to show financial need.
    • Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) is a need-based grant program for Oklahoma residents who attend eligible colleges, universities and career technology centers in Oklahoma.
    • Pell Grant is awarded to eligible undergraduate students to help cover college expenses. The Pell Grant typically does not have to be repaid.
    • Work-Study is a federal student aid program that provides students with part-time employment while they’re enrolled in school. The earnings are used to help pay for educational expenses.

To learn more about financial aid terms, check out the glossary through the U.S. Department of Education.