Everyone Should Apply!

With a new mobile app and a redesigned website, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has never been faster or easier. However, there’s one mistake students and their parents often make: not completing the FAFSA at all!

Each year, many families don’t complete the FAFSA because they think they make too much money to qualify for aid. Counting yourself out before even starting is a huge mistake! Even if you think you won’t qualify for aid, you should still submit the FAFSA anyway.
Here’s why:

  • You could be missing out. Billions of financial aid dollars are offered every year. Those funds will be awarded to someone… and that “someone” could be you. But you’ll never know if you don’t apply!
  • Your school might use the data for other financial aid. Some schools use the data on your FAFSA to award school-specific grants and scholarships. So, in addition to missing out on federal funding, you could take yourself out of the running for school aid by choosing not to submit the FAFSA.
  • Federal student loans offer options. Even if you’re positive you’ll only qualify for student loans and you’re unsure about borrowing money for school, federal loans could be your best option. Federal student loans offer more flexible repayment plans than private or alternative loans. They’re also a better option than high interest credit cards.
  • There’s no obligation. You’re not required to accept the aid offered to you. You’ll have the option to decline any aid offered, or you may choose to limit how much you borrow.

The FAFSA is available on Oct. 1, so apply as soon after as possible at FAFSA.gov

FSA ID

It won’t be long until it’s time to submit next year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2019-2020 FAFSA will be available October 1, 2018.

Did you know that it’s best to create your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) before you complete your FAFSA? In fact, you can do it today! The FSA ID is a username and password that you’ll use to sign your completed FAFSA, and it will also allow you to log on to other websites later on. You must only create your own FSA ID; parents of dependent students should not create an ID for their children, and vice versa. Because the FSA ID is your unique electronic signature, you should never share it with anyone else, including a parent or financial aid advisor.

Go to fsaid.ed.gov to get started. While creating your FSA ID, be sure to provide an email address that you plan to use permanently—don’t use a business address or one issued by your high school or college. If you choose, you can also list your mobile phone number in order to receive text messages from the Federal Student Aid processing center. It’s important to know that each email address and mobile number can be used for only one FSA ID, so don’t use the same email/phone information that your parent uses.

Ready to create your FSA ID? The process is easy, and there’s a tool that’ll make it even easier! Use the FSA ID worksheet to help you get started, and then keep it in a safe location to refer to later as needed.

We wish you the best of luck on your first step in the federal financial aid process.

FSA ID Worksheet

Get Ready, Get Set, FAFSA!

Oct. 1 is quickly approaching, and we all know what happens then, right? The 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) opens! Take these steps now to prepare.

  1. Create your FSA ID. The Federal Student Aid ID is a username and password used to electronically sign your FAFSA and complete other important financial aid paperwork. The student and one parent will each need their own FSA ID. Be sure to keep track of the username and password you create. You’ll use your FSA ID for years to come, so be sure to use a personal email account when creating your FSA ID. You may not always have access to your school issued email account in the future.
  2. Gather your tax information. The 2019-2020 FAFSA will request 2017 tax information. Take the time now to locate 2017 income and tax information for both the student and parent(s). The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available for students and parents to transfer tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. However, it will still be important to have your tax documents with you when you complete the FAFSA.
  3. Think about where you’re headed. You’ll have the opportunity to send your FAFSA to up to 10 schools you’re considering attending. Keep in mind you can log back into your FAFSA to add and remove schools if your plans change. Check out org to learn more about schools that would be a good fit for you and your goals.
  4. Ask questions. If you have special circumstances that you believe impact your ability to complete the FAFSA, ask for guidance now! Ask us by clicking on “Email Us Your FAFSA Question!” on the right side of this page. You can also contact your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college to discuss your situation.

Completing the FAFSA is an important step toward funding your education after high school. Be sure to complete the application as soon as possible after Oct. 1!

What’s the big deal about the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application submitted to the federal government to inform schools of your financial situation. The information you submit on your FAFSA is used to determine how much federal and state financial aid you may be eligible to receive to help you pay for college.

Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for financial aid, submit your FAFSA anyway. It’s not uncommon for students to assume they won’t qualify due to some myths they’ve been told. Most students are pleasantly surprised to discover they are eligible to receive one or more types of aid. Once you submit your FAFSA you will receive a report that’s called a Student Aid Report (SAR). This summary of your FAFSA information may be a required part of many scholarship applications that you complete.

By submitting the FAFSA, you’re not automatically signing up for student loans or committing to any colleges. You’re simply giving the college(s) you’re interested in attending an opportunity to discuss your financial aid options with you. So be sure to fill out the 2019-2020 FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1 this year. Visit FAFSA.gov for more information.

 

FAFSA on the Go

The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has started making improvements to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), creating a more mobile and user friendly application process. They have already begun implementing some of the new mobile friendly features, which were released on July 22. This updated application has a redesigned look, better display on phones, laptops and tablets and has an easy to follow question flow. They have also replaced the “Help and Hints” feature with new “tool tips” to help guide you through the various steps of the application.

A beta version of the mobile app will be released later this summer, with the complete version of the app slated to launch on October 1. This will allow you to access your myStudentAid account through a mobile app, rather than through your internet browser. The myStudentAid mobile app will let you complete the FAFSA, make student loan payments and accomplish other financial aid tasks, like tracking your loan spending, all from the palm of your hand. Below is an example of what you can expect to see when you login to the mobile app.

fafsa mobile app screenshots

FAFSA Resources

StartWithFAFSA.org is dedicated to informing you about all things FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). With this mission in mind, we have developed numerous resources to help you navigate the FAFSA process. On our Resources page, we provide links to local and national websites to help you learn about and complete the FAFSA. You can also find a list of publications, tools and videos that highlight specific areas of interest.

If you’re looking for a quick overview of FAFSA completion, check out our YouTube page and learn about The FAFSA in Five (also in Spanish). This short video will give you the highlights of FAFSA completion in five easy steps. Not a video person? You can also learn how to Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps through our online brochure.

To learn essential details about the FAFSA, look over the FAFSA Facts and FAFSA Parent flyers. Both of these resources offer guidance and aim to answer common questions and concerns that students and parents have about the application.

Before you start the application, you’ll need to create your FSA ID, which will be used as your electronic signature for the FAFSA. The FSA ID Worksheet (also available in Spanish) will guide you and your parent through the FSA ID creation process. You will also need to make sure you use the correct version of the FAFSA. To learn which year’s application you need to complete, review our FAFSA Completion Chart and match-up your information.

By completing the FAFSA, you are applying for federal and some state financial aid. You can continue looking for financial aid in the form of scholarships by visiting UCanGo2.org and OKCollegeStart.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook to find more scholarships and FAFSA info!

Welcome Back!

WELCOME BACK!

You’re about to begin another academic year, full of promise—with maybe just a few challenges thrown in here and there.

Whether you’re a returning college student or just entering college for the first time, you may have questions about how you can cover the costs of college this year. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Check your FSA ID status. This is the user name and password that you set up before you filed your first FAFSA, and it serves as your electronic signature. If you haven’t used your FSA ID in a while, it may need to be re-enabled. This can be done at the manage my FSA ID tab at fsaid.ed.gov.
  • If you haven’t already, submit your FAFSA! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is still available for academic year 2018-2019. Go to FAFSA.gov to start your application.
  • Apply for institutional aid (scholarships that come from your college), and reapply each semester.
  • Search for more scholarships. To start, we suggest UCanGo2.org and okcollegestart.org.

Find a part-time job. Many schools participate in the federal work-study program. If you demonstrate financial need, you may be able to work part-time on campus or an approved site off-campus. The money you earn at a work-study job is then used to help you pay your college expenses. If you don’t qualify for work-study or your school doesn’t participate in the WS program, watch for job opportunities posted around your campus and online.

Grants, Work-Study and Student Loans

As you begin exploring different forms of financial aid, three terms will stand out: grants, work-study and student loans. These are the three primary forms of aid that the federal government distributes through the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). By completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’re applying to receive these various types of financial aid for school.

Grants and scholarships, which are given to eligible students to help them pay higher education expenses, are the best form of aid you can receive, as they typically don’t need to be repaid. The Pell Grant is the most notable federal grant; it’s awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need. Students can receive up to $6,095 from the Pell Grant for the 2018-19 school year. The OTAG is awarded to eligible Oklahoma residents enrolled in schools within the state and the FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) is awarded to students with exceptional financial need. Some grants do have obligations attached to them, such as the TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grant. This grant is designed to assist students who plan to teach and meet certain requirements for the grant. Not all campuses participate in this program, so students will need to check with their campus about available types of financial aid offered.

Work-Study is the form of federal aid that allows undergraduates to work part-time jobs on or off campus to earn money for school expenses. This program is administered by the school, and like grants, is based on your financial need.

The third type of aid is a federal direct student loan. A student loan is a form of aid the federal government provides to help students bridge the gap between family savings, scholarships and grants, and work study and remaining college costs. Unlike most grants or work-study, this money must be paid back with interest. While federal student loans need to be repaid, the interest accrued is often lower than it would be with a private lender, and federal student loans have more flexible repayment options than private or alternative loans.

The Direct Subsidized Loan program will lend students up to $5,500 annually depending on grade level, financial need and dependency status. The interest rate for subsidized loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 is set at 5.05 percent, and the government will pay your interest costs while you’re attending school at least half time. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduates (5.05 percent interest rate) and graduate students (6.60 percent interest rate). The government does not pay interest costs during school for unsubsidized loan borrowers, but students may make interest payments while in school to save money. If there is still a balance remaining after using all other available forms of aid, parents of dependent undergraduate students may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan. PLUS loan applicants must meet credit requirements, and the interest rate is currently set at 7.60 percent.

If you must accept a student loan to help pay for college, focus on federal loan options, and limit your borrowing to the amount you truly need to pay school expenses. For more information about paying for college, check out UCanGo2.org/pay.

Summer Checklist for Seniors

Transitioning from your junior year to your senior year of high school can be an exciting time. This is the year you’ll be rounding out your high school career and gearing up for the next phase of your life. Although it can be difficult to stay focused in all the excitement of senior year, it’s important that you stay on track and get fully prepared for college.

UCanGo2.org provides seniors, and all other high school students, with a comprehensive by-year checklist to ensure you’re ready for college. This checklist offers information to help you make the most of your final year of high school, outlines the college application and admission process and explains how to apply for federal and state financial aid and scholarships.

By following this checklist, you’ll be well-equipped to succeed in your pursuit of higher education. As Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

http://www.ucango2.org/publications/student/Senior_Checklist.pdf