All posts by UCanGo2

Are You Looking for Money?

Well, who isn’t? Let’s rephrase to be more specific. Are you looking for money for college? If so, you should check out UCanGo2.org where you’ll find dozens of resources to help you plan, prepare and pay for college. Here are some of the highlights:

UCango2 Find Scholarships Buttong

Find hundreds of scholarships organized by deadline or category, and don’t forget to check back weekly for UCanGo2’s Scholarship of the Week!

 
Are You Looking for MoneyAre You Looking for Money is UCanGo2’s signature financial aid guide with specific information about Oklahoma’s programs. It offers information about grants, scholarships, work study programs, and student loans.

 

Finish the FAFSA in Five StepsFinish the FAFSA in 5 Steps is a step-by-step guide designed to help students and their parents submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in just five simple steps.

 

College Planning ChecklistsWhether you’re in sixth grade or 12th grade, UCanGo2 is here to help you determine your next steps for preparing for college. From what classes to take to when to apply for financial aid, the high school and middle school checklists offer useful information for every student.

 

Bonus! A complete list of our FAFSA tools for students and parents, including FAFSA Facts and the Dependency Questionnaire, can be found in the resources section here at StartWithFAFSA.org/resources.

 

Who is My Parent on the FAFSA?

Financial aid eligibility can vary depending on whether you’re considered a dependent or independent student. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) requires dependent students to show their parent’s information on the form. Independent students are not required to include it. What if your parents are divorced or separated? What if you live with your grandmother? Whose information should be included?

The Department of Education provides these guidelines to explain who should be counted as a parent. Unless otherwise noted, “parent” means the legal (biological and/or adoptive) parent or stepparent. The rules below apply to legal parents regardless of gender.

    • If your parents are living and legally married to each other, answer the questions about both of them.
    • If your parents are living together and are not married, answer the questions about both of them.
    • If your parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.
    • If your parents are divorced or separated and don’t live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If you lived the same amount of time with each parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.
    • If your parents are divorced but live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Unmarried and both parents living together,” and you’ll answer the questions about both of them.
    • If your parents are separated but live together, you’ll indicate their marital status as “Married or remarried,” and you’ll answer the questions about both of them.
    • If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you’re reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.
    • The following people are not your parents unless they have adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and uncles or aunts.

If you’re still unsure, contact the Federal Student Aid Center at 1.800.4.FED.AID, 1.800-433-3243.

What’s up with the FSA ID?

The Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) is used to log in to certain FSA websites, such as FAFSA.gov. It’s comprised of a username and password, and it has replaced the old PIN system. If you used a PIN to sign your last FAFSA, you’ll be given directions on how to set up an FSA ID the next time you log in at FAFSA.gov.

Setting up an FSA ID is easy, and it’s strongly recommended that you set it up before you start the FAFSA. Simply visit fsaid.ed.gov, click ‘Create an FSA ID,’ and fill in the requested information.

Here are a few things you need to know:

  • If you are a dependent student (see our FAFSA Dependency Questionnaire in the resources section), one of your parents will also need to set up their own FSA ID. Parents will use the same website and follow the same steps.
  • Your email address cannot be the same as your parent’s email address on the FAFSA. Make sure you have two separate email addresses before you set up your FSA IDs.
  • Because many high schools have firewalls to prevent students from receiving external mail, it’s best not to use an email address that’s been assigned to you by your school.
  • If you have any questions about the FSA ID, click ‘Help’ in the top right corner at fsaid.ed.gov. You’ll find a wealth of information there.

Don’t forget to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid!

Concerned About the FAFSA? We Can Help!

If you need help paying for college next year, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required if you want to explore your eligibility for federal and state aid, and is also required for some grant and scholarship programs (including Oklahoma’s Promise). By completing the FAFSA, you’re not committing to any aid—you’re simply submitting a ‘snapshot’ of your family’s financial situation so you can learn about your options.

There are many helpful resources to check into, especially if you’re submitting the FAFSA for the first time.

UCanGo2.org provides great tips on how to cover the cost of college and provides information about various types of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, state aid, work-study and student loans.

StudentAid.ed.gov provides tons of information about when, how and why to submit the FAFSA.

Check out the categories and archives listed at the left here at StartWithFAFSA.org. Many common questions have been addressed in blogs that we’ve posted in the past. While you’re here, also be sure to check out our ‘FAFSA in Five’ videos! You’ll find one in English and one in Spanish.

For more Spanish resources, visit StudentAid.ed.gov/sa/resources and scroll down the page to see a list of all the publications and videos available in Spanish

The 2016-17 FAFSA is Available

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAFSA

Are you planning to take college classes this fall? Are you wondering how to pay for college? If so, you can begin the financial aid process now by submitting the 2016-17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available as of Jan. 1. The FAFSA is the application used to obtain all types of federal financial aid, some types of state financial aid and many scholarships, too. Everyone planning to enroll at a college or university should complete the FAFSA. Even if you think you, or your family, make too much money to qualify, apply anyway! Most people qualify for something, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

It’s important to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible each year. Why? Because some financial aid programs that require FAFSA information, including some grants and scholarships, have deadlines early in the year. You don’t want to miss out on any financial aid opportunities.

Not sure where to start? Check out our video to learn how to complete the FAFSA in Five Steps or download our FAFSA Five Steps brochure.

And, remember to visit at UCanGo2.org  and facebook.com/UCanGo2 for the latest college planning information, scholarship updates and more!

Please note, the 2017-18 FAFSA will be available Oct. 1, 2016. 

Four Reasons to Finish the FAFSA

If you’re going to college next year, it’s time to start thinking about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! Here are four reasons why:

  1. The FAFSA is used to apply for all types of federal financial aid and some types of state aid. It is also required for many scholarship programs, including Oklahoma’s Promise.
  1. Applying has never been easier. Complete the FAFSA online.
    Screen shot of FAFSA online with the help and hints box highlighted on the right
    Help and Hints Box

    Doing so is fast and efficient for you and the school(s) receiving your results.

  1. Help is always available. Use the Help and Hints boxes online or contact the Federal Student Aid Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243), or any nearby college or university financial aid office.
  1. You don’t have to wait long to get the ball rolling. The 2016-17 FAFSA became available Jan. 1, 2016 and the 2017-18 FAFSA will be available Oct. 1, 2016. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid.

Don’t Make this FAFSA Mistake!

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has never been easier. However, there’s one mistake students and their parents continue to make.

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.

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!
    • 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.
    • Your school might use the data. Some schools use the data on your FAFSA to award school-specific grants and scholarships. So, beyond 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 know 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 often have lower interest rates than private or alternative loans, and they offer flexible repayment plans. They’re also a better option than high interest credit cards.

When is the FAFSA Due?

We get this question a lot, and the answer can be somewhat confusing.

Technically, you can submit the FAFSA throughout most of the year; however, all high school seniors and current college students should submit the FAFSA as soon as the new form becomes available in each year they intend to enroll in college courses.

Why? Two reasons:

    1. The earlier you submit the FAFSA, the sooner you will know what aid is available to you.  If you’re considering more than one school, you may receive different aid offers.  Filing early gives you time to compare and make an educated decision.
    2. There are other deadlines to consider, including:

State Deadlines
Like federal financial aid, many state aid programs use information from your FAFSA for their award purposes. However, state programs have their own deadlines, often early in the year.

Students are encouraged to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid, including the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant Program (OTAG).

School Deadlines
In addition to specific financial aid program deadlines, some schools set their own deadlines for school-specific financial aid. Check with the college(s) you’re interested in attending to find out about any special deadlines.

See what we mean by “somewhat confusing?”

Your best bet: Aim to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible each year. 

If you miss a deadline, there are other types of financial aid to consider. Some forms of financial aid, including loans, are typically available throughout the year. Plus, many other aid programs offered throughout the year, including many grants and scholarships, don’t require information from the FAFSA.

Types of Financial Aid Offered Through the FAFSA

Financial aid comes in many forms, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the place to start to find out which types you’re eligible to receive. Remember, some of these programs have early application deadlines, so it’s important to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible each year you intend to enroll in college courses. Here are some of the types of financial aid offered through the FAFSA.

Grants and scholarships

Sometimes called gift aid, this type of financial aid is often based on financial need or merit and doesn’t have to be repaid. In addition to federal grants and scholarships, the FAFSA is required for some Oklahoma programs, like the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG), Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant (OTEG) and Oklahoma’s Promise.

NOTE: There are also grants and scholarships offered by private corporations or non-profit groups that don’t necessarily require information from the FAFSA. You can search for scholarships by deadline or category at UCanGo2.org.

Work-study

A form of self-help aid, federal work-study provides part-time jobs for students (usually on- or off- campus) allowing them to earn money to help pay educational expenses. The program encourages community service employment and work related to the student’s course of study.

Student loans

Federal student loans are offered at low interest rates. Some are based on financial need and some aren’t. The amount you can borrow depends on many factors, including your grades, financial need, cost of attendance, the length of your school’s academic year and other sources of aid. All student loan funds borrowed must be repaid, regardless of whether you obtain a degree or drop out early. Remember, you don’t have to accept all student loan funds offered to you. Only borrow what you need to pay for your school expenses. Learn how to Borrow Smart from the Start at ReadySetRepay.org.

When paying for school, always go for free money first, including grants and scholarships. Then, use any funds you or your family have saved to contribute to your college costs. If you still need assistance, turn to the federal work-study program and low-interest student loans to help cover your expenses. For more information about paying for college, visit the Paying for College section at UCanGo2.org.