you submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you listed
one or more college codes that represent the schools that interest you. Once your FAFSA’s been processed, you may begin
to receive financial aid offers from these schools sent electronically or via
the US Postal Service. It’s important to read each offer carefully, as they
describe the types and amounts of financial aid a college or career technology
center can provide to help you pay for one year of higher education.
your financial aid offer you’ll see:
total Cost of Attendance (COA) – An estimate of what it costs to go to that
school for one year
Family Contribution (EFC) – A number calculated from your FAFSA that’s used by
the school to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible to receive (most
likely not the amount you’ll be expected to pay)
and amounts of aid the school can offer you; this list is often called a ‘financial
aid package’. Your offer may consist of:
– aid based on financial need that typically doesn’t have to be repaid
– gift aid awarded to you by colleges, state agencies, foundations, tribal and
work-study – an opportunity for you to work on or off campus to earn money for
student loans – funds awarded based on financial eligibility that must be
repaid, with interest
PLUS loan – a loan your parent(s) may borrow to help you pay for college; your
parent(s) are expected to repay the loan (credit check required)
subtract all of the financial aid shown on the offer from your Cost of Attendance.
This will determine your estimated Net Cost, which is the out-of-pocket amount
you’ll be expected to pay. If you should end up with a negative amount, the Net
Cost would be zero.
options are available to help you cover the Net Cost?
scholarships – You don’t have to be a straight A student or a sports star to
qualify for many different kinds of scholarships. OKcollegestart.org and UCanGo2.org are great places to
begin your scholarship search.
529 College Savings Plan – visit ok4saving.org for more information
benefits – visit military.com/education/gi-bill to learn more
monthly payment plan approved by your school
don’t have to accept all financial aid offered to you, especially when it comes
to borrowing student loans. Using a monthly payment plan while you’re in
college can be less expensive than a monthly loan payment with added interest
after you’ve graduated. If you’re unable to make a monthly payment to the
school, consider making smaller monthly interest payments on any unsubsidized
student loan(s). This will decrease your overall student loan debt once you
graduate or leave school.
attention to deadlines. Accept or decline your financial aid offer before the
you receive more than one financial aid offer, you may want to determine what
your net cost would be at each college. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the
school that’s the best fit for you.
add more school codes to your FAFSA, log in as a returning user at studentaid.gov.
receive your financial aid offer from a college you may be interested in
attending, it’s quite possible that one or more student loans will be included
in the offer. If you need a student loan(s) to help cover the costs of college,
you’ll want to borrow smart from the very start of your college experience to
minimize your debt after graduation. Here are some things you need to know as
you consider student loans.
- Use ‘free money’ first. Take advantage of all the gift aid you’re
offered—grants and scholarships—before deciding how much you’ll need to borrow.
- You don’t have to accept student loans. You can decline any amount of
financial aid that is offered to you. If you must borrow to pay college costs,
only borrow what you’ll need to get you through one year of college. Review
your finances each semester, and keep that commitment to borrow only what you
need to cover school expenses.
- Do your research. Some experts recommend that your monthly
loan payment should be no more than 8-10% of the monthly income you expect to
earn during the first year after graduation. To estimate your loan payments,
try the Loan Calculator found at ReadySetRepay.org.
- Subsidized = less expensive. Interest won’t be added to a subsidized
federal student loan balance until after you graduate, withdraw or drop your
class load to less than half-time status.
- Make interest payments. Students who borrow federal unsubsidized
loans are responsible for all interest on the loan as soon as their
institutions receive the first disbursement. Student loan interest payments are
generally affordable, even on a college student’s budget. If possible, keep the
interest paid down while you’re in school and during your grace period. To help
you think it through, see how two students took different paths to repay their
- Keep in touch with your lender(s) and
loan servicer(s). Always
make sure you let them know your current address, and contact them if you’re
having trouble making your payments. You can find contact information for your
lenders/servicers at StudentAid.gov under Manage
Loans. Be sure to have
your FSA ID handy—it’s the username and password you created when you submitted
your FAFSA. You’ll need it to access your federal student loan information.
- Stay informed. Find more information and FAQs at ReadySetRepay.org and StudentAid.gov.
Happy Financial Aid
Awareness Month! February is the time to learn how you can fund your education
with various financial aid options. In order to receive federal financial aid,
you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Once your
FAFSA has been submitted, your school’s financial aid office will notify you of
your aid eligibility. Before you decide which options you’ll accept, take time
to learn about the different kinds of aid that are available to you. Since they’re
all beneficial, here’s an overview of each type of financial aid.
- Scholarships. Potentially the most significant type of financial aid available is a scholarship. It’s free money you can earn from your own hard work, financial need, merit, family history, skills, hobbies or athletics. The more scholarship applications you complete, the more likely you are to win an award. While you don’t have to submit a FAFSA to apply for a scholarship, some programs may request that you do. Scholarship applications could ask you to write an essay, submit a video, take a photograph or complete a service project. To make sure your application matches the scholarship requirements, read all directions carefully before you start the process. If you’re not sure where to look for scholarships, UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org are great places to start your search. Remember that scholarships can be the additional assistance you need to help you reach your educational goals.
- Grants. Sometimes referred to as free money since they usually don’t have to be repaid, grants are given to those who demonstrate financial need. A common type of grant is the Pell Grant. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG, is not as common since it is only given to students who show extreme financial need. For students interested in becoming teachers, there’s the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, or TEACH Grant. Students interested in the TEACH Grant should carefully read all guidelines. If the grant requirements are not met, the money could turn into a loan that must be repaid with interest. Additionally, there’s the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for those who’ve lost a parent or guardian due to military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. As with any type of financial aid, be sure to speak with your financial office if you have questions about grants.
- Work-study. Also called earned aid, work-study allows students to work and earn money for college expenses while they’re in school. Work-study positions are part-time jobs that can be on or off campus. The supervisors over these positions tend to recognize that school is a priority and are usually mindful of your class schedule. Take advantage of these positions because they can give you work experience and time to focus on your academic responsibilities. Each school will have different ways to apply for a work-study job, so talk with your school to learn more about the application process.
- Student Loans. While this type of aid is borrowed money that must be repaid with interest, student loans can help you bridge the gap between grants and scholarships. When it comes to borrowed money, it’s important that you borrow only the amount you need to pay school expenses! Federal loans can be beneficial due to their fixed interest rates (it will not change over time) and flexible repayment options. One type of federal student loan is the Direct Subsidized loan. This aid is for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government will pay the accruing interest on a subsidized loan while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time. Another federal loan, the Direct Unsubsidized student loan, is for students who do not show financial need. With this loan, the interest will always be accruing on the loan and students will be responsible for paying the interest. For those who need extra financial assistance there’s the Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or the Direct PLUS loan. Parents of dependent undergraduate students can apply for the PLUS loan to help cover additional college expenses for their child. In order to receive a Direct PLUS loan, parents must complete the loan application and meet certain credit requirements. Students will have six months from the time they graduate, drop below half-time enrollment or leave school to start repaying Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. Those who take out a PLUS loan will have to start repayment once funds have been disbursed.
that you know a little more about financial aid, use this month to decide which
options could be right for you. For more financial aid information, go to StudentAid.gov.
here you are, right in the middle of the academic year. How are things going so
far? Do you have enough financial aid to pay for your spring semester in
fall semester can often reveal expenses you didn’t anticipate when you accepted
your financial aid offer at the beginning of the school year. If your budget’s
being stretched to the limit, remember to explore opportunities for
scholarships. Believe it or not, new scholarships can pop up in the spring semester,
too! Here are some places to look:
financial aid office. There may be new scholarships available, or
there may be some funds left over from a scholarship given to a student who
didn’t return for the spring semester. If you’re a high school student, check
in with your counselor and take advantage of the resources he/she has to offer.
college’s website. Institutional scholarships are often
available at various times throughout the year. It’s a good idea to check the
scholarship listings on your school’s website every week, or at least every two
the possibilities! Where do you start? Here are a few suggestions:
- UCanGo2.org/Scholarships –
Learn about the Scholarship of the Week, then search by month and scroll down to
make sure you don’t miss any application deadlines. You’ll also find a table
full of additional scholarship opportunities for each month.
- Search for brand names of restaurants, chain
stores and food producers. Search the websites of health care systems and
various law firms. Your search engine could become your best friend.
list of additional scholarship websites, see UCanGo2’s publication called Are
You Looking for Money?
After you’ve submitted your FAFSA (Free Application for
Federal Student Aid), it’s possible that your application could be flagged for
verification. Verification is the process a financial aid office must complete
to determine the accuracy of the information on your application. If your FAFSA
is selected for verification, the financial aid office from the school(s)
listed on your FAFSA may ask you to provide documentation about the addresses,
names or financial data you provided. The aid officer will let you know which
sections must be corrected and the documentation you’ll be required to provide
to verify your information.
Being selected for verification doesn’t mean your FAFSA is incorrect.
Annually about 30% of all FAFSA applications are chosen for this process and the
financial aid office is required to verify your data. Monitor your email for
requests for additional information and swiftly respond to those requests. Your
eligibility for financial aid will not be reviewed until the verification
process is complete. Follow up with the financial aid office to check on your
application status because the more you cooperate with them, the faster the
process will go. Verification is the last official step they’ll need to complete
to provide you with a financial aid offer. The offer will list the amount and
types of financial aid programs you may use to help cover your college
The new year often comes with fresh enthusiasm for a renewed
lifestyle. Whether it’s working out regularly, eating out less or resisting the
snooze button, there is no time like the present to commit to new habits.
In addition to health and financial goals, there are some
helpful academic goals that will prove beneficial from this school year to the
completing the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’re considered for a variety of state
and federal financial aid. We encourage you to “start” with FAFSA, and then
continue seeking scholarship opportunities throughout the year. Check out UCanGo2.org for new
scholarships by category and by deadline. Make a profile on OKcollegestart.org
to view scholarship applications that are the perfect fit for you. It’s
important to apply for as many scholarships as possible year-round, so make a
habit of applying for 2-3 scholarships a week.
Study Habits: While
your grades and GPA are not taken into consideration with your FAFSA, schools
will look at your academic achievements when deciding academic scholarship
offers as well as acceptance to their school. Your grades in college will also
determine if you maintain certain scholarship offers from year to year. To
start or keep up good study habits, check out these study tips: https://ucango2.org/publications/student/Perfect_10.pdf
Extracurricular Involvement: Many schools take more than just your
grades into consideration. Join a club or volunteer in your community after
school hours. Your involvement will look impressive on a college application.
Are you already in college? Join a club or find opportunities in your community
to share the skills and knowledge that you’re developing. It looks great on
resumes for future employers. Whether you’re still in high school or you’re
headed into the career field, extracurricular involvement is a good commitment
to make in the new year.
you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), be on the
lookout for your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is an electronic or paper
document that summarizes the data you put on your FAFSA. It also provides some
basic information about your eligibility for federal student financial aid. If
you completed, signed and submitted your FAFSA electronically, this document
will be sent to your email address within 3-5 days. If you did not include an
email address, a paper version of the SAR will be mailed to your postal address
in approximately 2-3 weeks. You can also access your SAR by logging in to your
account at FAFSA.gov.
SAR contains important information, like your Expected Family Contribution
(EFC) and your Data Release Number (DRN). The EFC is a measure of your family’s
financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law.
It’s based on the information provided on the FAFSA, but the EFC is NOT the amount
of money your family will have to pay for college. It’s a number used by your
school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you’re
eligible to receive.
DRN is located below your EFC on the SAR and is necessary if you want your
college or career school to change certain types of information on your FAFSA.
Speak with someone at your college financial aid office if there has been a
significant change in income for you or your parents or you have a special
circumstance you need to discuss with the aid administrator.
SAR might indicate that you’ve been selected for verification. This is a
process schools use to confirm the information on your FAFSA is correct. Your
college financial aid office will notify you if additional paperwork is needed
to fulfill this requirement.
the remainder of your SAR for any errors. If you find anything that should be
corrected, log back in to FAFSA.gov, access your
FAFSA, and make the necessary changes. Then enter the appropriate FSA IDs and
submit your FAFSA again.
The Free Application for
Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form you submit to determine your
eligibility to receive financial aid. This form asks various questions on information
you probably haven’t thought about before. Since these questions may be uncommon
to you and your family, it’s easy to make a mistake when completing the application.
If you need to make corrections to the FAFSA after you’ve submitted it, there
are a few ways you can fix the errors.
- Log back in – If you need to correct some information on your FAFSA, such as change your high school’s name or add more colleges to the application, you can simply log back into the FAFSA form. To do this, you’ll need your FSA ID. When you log in, you’ll see a box that shows information about your application status, along with your next steps in the FAFSA process. Under this box is a section that says, “You can also”. In that section, find the link to “Make FAFSA Corrections”. Click on the link to access your application. After you’ve made the necessary changes, submit the application again with the correct information. Don’t forget to sign the FAFSA again with your FSA ID!
- Update your SAR – When you first submit your FAFSA, it generates a Student Aid Report or SAR. This report shows all the information you entered on your application. If you need to change your name or Social Security number, you can make those adjustments by printing out your SAR and correcting the errors. Unfortunately, the application doesn’t allow you to update this information on the electronic version. You can find and print your SAR in the “You can also” section of FAFSA.gov, after you’ve logged in with your FSA ID. Once you’ve printed out the report and made your changes, mail the corrected SAR to the address stated on the form. Additionally, if you need to change your name due to marriage, divorce, etc., you must first make those changes with the Social Security Administration (SSA). When SSA has corrected your information, you can then update your FSA ID, as well as the FAFSA form, with the right data.
- Speak with financial aid – For small changes such as updating your email or mailing address, you can use the previous two methods. However, if you need to correct financial information on the FAFSA, especially if you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you may have to submit corrections through the financial aid office at your anticipated school. Students who manually entered their financial information on the FAFSA can log back into FAFSA.gov and make changes. Those who used the IRS Data Retrieval tool to complete the income portion must speak with their financial aid office to fix any errors. Talk to the office about the errors that were made and learn how you can correct the mistakes. The financial aid office may want extra documentation, so be sure to give them all the required information. You can make changes to your name or Social Security number through the financial aid office as well.
Submitting the FAFSA with
the right information is important. If you need to make changes, don’t wait.
Adjust your answers as soon as you learn a mistake was made. Using any of these
methods will help you successfully make changes. For more information on how to
submit FAFSA corrections, go to studentaid.ed.gov.
Family Contribution (EFC) is a number that’s used to help determine your
eligibility for financial aid for college. Each school that you selected to
share your information with on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA) will use the EFC to determine how much aid you may receive at their
individual institution. Your EFC is calculated through a formula that uses your
family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets and benefits. The size of your family,
the number of family members who will attend college during the academic year
and the age of your older parent will also influence your EFC.
Financial aid administrators will
subtract the EFC from the student’s cost of attendance to determine their need for
the following federal student aid programs:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Subsidized Student Loans
- Federal Supplemental Educational
- Federal Work-Study
Other federal and state scholarship
programs will also use the EFC to determine your eligibility for additional
aid. For a detailed guide on exactly how an EFC is calculated, you can check
out The EFC Formula.
It’s important to know that your EFC
is not the guaranteed amount of money you or your family will be required to
contribute to your cost of attendance. It’s only a number used by your school
to calculated your financial aid eligibility.
The EFC is a very influential
calculation, so it’s important to complete your FAFSA sooner than later. You
can find the FAFSA online at FAFSA.gov.
Thanksgiving is a time to practice gratitude.
Here are some ways we can remain thankful during FAFSA (Free Application for Federal
Student Aid) and college application season.
1. Celebrate the fact that the FAFSA is a free resource for financial aid. The FAFSA serves as your
application for federal and some state financial aid for college. Whether you
receive grants, scholarships, student loans or work study, all of these will
help get you one step closer to your future goals.
2. Be grateful that you created your FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) before starting your FAFSA application,
and kept it safe on your handy FSA
ID Worksheet! The FSA ID is a username and password that you and one of
your parents create to sign the FAFSA electronically. This short task can save you time, as
submitting and signing your FAFSA online will speed up the processing period
for your application. Save your FSA ID worksheet so when you complete the FAFSA
next year you won’t have to struggle to remember your ID; you’ll only have to
reference your FSA ID worksheet for the information.
3. Remember to show your educators how much you appreciate
them. Is there an administrator, teacher or counselor who’s been especially
supportive as you plan for college? It’s easy to get caught up in the essays,
application requirements and test scores, and educators can encourage us to
persevere and answer our endless questions. Educators are an essential resource
when it comes to choosing the school you want to attend.
4. Having trouble picking your top schools? The FAFSA allows you to apply for financial
aid at up to 10 different schools. Ask your teacher or counselor to help
you find the best-fit colleges, universities or technology centers. After you’ve
narrowed down your choices and determined which schools are a good match, take
the time to thank your teacher or counselor for everything they’ve done to help
make your education journey successful.
5. Finally, be proud of your own perseverance. Once you’ve followed
the tips in Finish
the FAFSA in Five Steps and submitted your application, you can be grateful
that it’s done! (Until next year, that is.)