Category Archives: Financial need

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.

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.

Financial Aid Resources for Spanish Speakers

As you may know, there are many students and parents for whom English is a second language. When it comes to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and looking for financial aid, it’s important to find resources in Spanish. To help, we’ve compiled the following list of financial aid resources for Spanish-speaking families.

https://studentaid.ed.gov and https://studentaid.ed.gov/resources
Federal Student Aid, of the U.S. Department of Education, offers this site to provide information about all types of financial aid. Click the link at the top of the home page to convert the entire site to Spanish. Visit the resources page to find a number of college planning and financial aid publications and videos in Spanish.

www.FAFSA.gov
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. A link is provided at the top right of the home page to change the entire site to Spanish.

StartWithFAFSA.org
To the right of this blog post, you’ll see a link to check out our video that walks you through the five-step process of completing the FAFSA (available in both English and Spanish).

http://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships/articles/1415-becas-para-estudiantes-hispanos-y-latinos
Fastweb.com is a great resource for locating scholarship websites. Check out this section, which provides information in Spanish.

Are You Familiar With The FAFSA?

If you or your child is a senior in high school, now is the time to get familiar with the steps needed to enter college as stress-free as possible.

One step that students and parents seem to worry about is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Part of the fear stems from parents who completed the FAFSA years ago, when the process was much more complicated, time-consuming and tedious.  We’re here to assure you… things have changed for the better!  The online FAFSA has made the process quicker, more intuitive and less likely to produce errors that cause delays.  So start learning about the FAFSA process NOW and watch our FAFSA video tutorial to learn how to complete the FAFSA in five steps, also available in Spanish.

Don’t wait!  This year is going to pass in the blink of an eye. It can’t hurt to get started now.

 

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.

Don’t Count Yourself Out!

Even if you think you or your parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid, submit the FAFSA anyway. Students are often surprised by the aid they’re awarded.

There’s not a specific income cutoff to qualify for federal financial aid, and many other factors are considered. The only hard and fast rules of eligibility are that you must:

    • Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States.
    • Have a valid Social Security Number.
    • Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate, or have completed homeschooling.
    • Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
    • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
    • Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
    • Register (or already be registered) with the Selective Service System, if you are a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Even if you are not awarded grants, most students qualify for some type of federal student aid. Some schools use the data from your FAFSA to award state or school-specific grants and scholarships, so submitting the application may open more doors than you expect.

On average, it takes less than an hour to fill out the FAFSA online, so why not do it? It could turn out to be well worth your time!

 

Finish the FAFSA in 5 Steps

Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps brochure opens in a new tab
Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps

Planning for college can sometimes feel overwhelming. With so much to do and prepare, you may find that breaking the process into steps can make it much more manageable. With that approach in mind, we’re pleased to introduce you to Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps. Download this helpful brochure for a list of materials you’ll need to gather to complete the FAFSA, to learn what you can expect from the FAFSA process, and to find additional tools and resources along the way.

We also offer video tutorials in English and Spanish that show students and their parents how to finish the FAFSA in five steps. Remember, in most cases the FAFSA is required to receive financial aid for college, so the sooner you get started, the better. Good luck!