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:
- Read the letter and make sure you fully understand each type of financial aid you’re offered.
- Know the cost of your school and, if you are still considering more than one, compare the schools’ award letters.
- 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.
- 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.
Help save a tree… Apply for the FAFSA online!
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:
- Log in using your PIN at fafsa.gov.
- Click “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
- Change the tax filing status from “Will File” to “Already Completed.”
- 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.
- Double check your information and don’t forget to click submit!
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.
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.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could find that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow to help you pay for college? As luck would have it, a free ride to college just isn’t in the cards for most folks. Your next best bet is to submit the Free Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). By submitting the FAFSA, you’re able to determine how much federal and state aid you may be eligible to receive to help pay for college.
Already submitted the FAFSA? It’s never to late to start applying for scholarships. Be sure to take advantage of the helpful information provided in UCanGo2’s Scholarship Success Guide to help you as you go.
If you complete and submit your FAFSA online each year, the system will double check your entries against your information from previous years and it will offer you helpful information along the way. However, even with the advantages of online completion, you may find that your FAFSA contains an error, or you may need to update your tax information.
To correct an error or update your FAFSA online, visit FAFSA.gov and enter your login information. Then, on the My FAFSA page, click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” After you’ve finished your corrections, don’t forget to click submit.
Once you resubmit your application and receive a confirmation number, the correction will be processed in 3-5 days. You cannot submit a second correction until the first one is processed and a Student Aid Report (SAR) is generated, so try to make all of your corrections at once to avoid a processing delay.
You can expect several things after you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- If your application is error-free, you’ll be directed to a confirmation page with a confirmation number. This page will be emailed to you, but it’s also a good idea to save or print it for your records.
- Your information will be made available to the schools you included on your FAFSA application. They will have access to your information about a day after your application is processed. However, it may take them longer to retrieve your information, depending on their system. Want to add more schools? See our previous post for more information.
- About 3-5 days after you submit the FAFSA, you’ll receive an email containing instructions for accessing your Student Aid Report (SAR). If the email address you provided is not valid, your SAR will be mailed to you within 7-10 days.
- Be sure to check your SAR for accuracy. It contains important information including your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which schools use to determine how much federal financial aid you qualify for, including grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans.
- Once the colleges you listed on your application process your information, they’ll send you a financial aid award letter detailing the aid you’re eligible to receive. The schools may request additional information and if they do, be sure to send it in promptly.
When you add a college code to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), that school receives important information from your FAFSA. You should add the codes for colleges you’re seriously considering attending. If you’ve already submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (F AFSA) and have since discovered another college you may like to attend, it’s not too late to add the new school code to your online FAFSA application. In fact, it’s never too late to include additional schools. To add schools to your FAFSA, simply:
- Go to FAFSA.gov.
- Enter your Login information.
- Select the option to “Make FAFSA Corrections”.
- Go to the section where you’ve listed colleges and add the new school code(s). If you’ve already listed ten schools on your FAFSA, you’ll need to delete some to make room for any new school codes.
- Hit Submit.
- Follow up! Check your email and/or home mailbox to respond to any requests for materials from these additional schools.
Because a few types of financial aid are available year-round, there is not a specific deadline to submit the FAFSA. However, many scholarships and grants require information from your submitted FAFSA and have deadlines early in the year.
If you plan to apply for grants and scholarships that require information from your FAFSA, find out which grant or scholarship has the earliest deadline and aim to submit your FAFSA before then. Allow yourself enough time to get organized, gather materials, file your taxes, if possible, and complete the application.
Check out our previous post for more information about the benefits of applying early!