Category Archives: Types of Financial Aid

Understanding Your Award Letter

Once you’ve been accepted to a college, university or career technology center, and you’ve completed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you will receive a financial aid award letter. This letter is very important. It will notify you of the types of federal and state assistance you can receive to pay for college.

Most financial aid award letters are sent to you electronically, but a few schools may provide paper documents. Be sure you know the system your school uses so you don’t miss out on any deadlines. Award letters will state the amount of financial aid you can receive, but you will be required to accept or decline this money and notify your school by a specific date. If you miss the deadline, you may be missing out on money for college!

You don’t have to accept everything listed to you in the award letter. Research the aid programs that you’re being offered and make an educated decision. Remember: grants and scholarships are typically considered free money, work-study offers you the chance to work for your funds and student loans must be paid back in full with interest. If you have accumulated several scholarships and don’t need loan money, then don’t accept it! Loan funds that are declined will most likely still be available if you learn you need additional money later in the school year.

If you have questions about the aid you’re awarded, please contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. To learn more about financial aid programs, visit UCanGo2.org or StudentAid.ed.gov.

What’s Federal Work-Study?

If you don’t already plan to work while attending college, you should be aware that there are some real advantages to it. It can help pay for college without adding to your future student debt and help you build your resume.

When you fill out the FAFSA, you may find that you qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. Work-Study provides part-time jobs for eligible students on a college campus or in an approved nonprofit organization or public agency. The program encourages community service work and employment related to the student’s course of study. Students work a specified number of hours each week and typically earn minimum wage. When assigning work hours, your employer or your school’s financial aid office will consider your class schedule and your academic progress. You will be paid directly unless you request that the school use the money to pay for your outstanding education-related institutional expenses such as tuition, fees and room and board.

Whether through Work-Study or not, having a job while attending college will give you a head start in job hunting after you graduate. Most entry-level jobs will give you skills that employers are looking for, like customer service, money handling and organization. If you can find a job or workplace related to the career field you’re planning on, all the better. You’ll also meet people that you can list as references for future job applications.

Have You Applied Yet?

Any student that needs money for college expenses in 2017-18 should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) now! The FAFSA underwent a lot of changes this year, including moving the application start date from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1. Since the FAFSA is available now, students should submit the form as soon as possible to maximize opportunities for financial aid for college. Get ahead of the game and set a reminder to submit the FAFSA Oct. 1 of next year, too!

Many types of financial aid are awarded on a first come-first served basis. This includes various types of federal aid as well as some aid through the state of Oklahoma. For example, this year, the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG), does not have a deadline for FAFSA completion. Instead, students are told it’s important to apply early. Typically, OTAG receives more eligible applications than can be awarded with available funds and how early a student applies can be the deciding factor in whether that student is offered an OTAG award.

The FAFSA is THE application for federal grants, college work-study and many student loan programs including:

Grants:
Pell Grant
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Work Study Program:
Federal Work-Study

Federal Student Loans:
Direct Subsidized Loan
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Direct PLUS Loan
Federal Perkins Loan

So submit the FAFSA now. You may qualify for money for college!

How to Finish the FAFSA, Final Step: Follow-up

FAFSA Step 5So you’ve completed, signed and submitted the FAFSA, now what? It’s time to follow up!

Keep an eye on your email for something called a Student Aid Report (SAR) as well as information from the schools to which you chose to send your FAFSA results.

Your SAR will provide you with some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid. When you receive your SAR carefully review it and make sure your information is listed correctly. If you find a mistake, you will need to correct and resubmit your FAFSA.

Some schools may ask for more information, so be sure to provide any additional documentation they may require. Follow up with the school’s financial aid office if you have questions.

The 2017-18 FAFSA is Available!

FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student AidThe 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid is now ready for you! Remember, the first word in FAFSA stands for FREE. Never pay someone to complete the FAFSA.

If this is not your first rodeo with the FAFSA, then you may be wondering why it’s available so early. Well, we have good news for you. The FAFSA will become available Oct. 1 of each year to help you make the most of financial aid programs. Furthermore, you will now use tax information you’ve already submitted and will no longer have to update your FAFSA when your latest tax information is ready. See our chart to determine which tax forms to use with your current FAFSA.

Whether this is your first or 10th time completing the FAFSA, we offer a wide variety of information to help families along the way. Check out our resources section for more tools, publications and helpful external websites.

Four Reasons to Complete 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. Use gov to apply!
  2. Applying has never been easier. Complete the FAFSA online. Doing so is fast and efficient for you and the school(s) receiving your results.Help and Hints
  3. 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.
  4. You don’t have to wait long to get the ball rolling. The 2017-18 FAFSA becomes available Oct. 1, 2016. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid.

 

Grants and Work-Study and Loans! Oh My!!

As you prepare for college, you will start to learn all sorts of new words and acronyms like Pell, FSEOG, and OTAG. Applying for college and financial aid is confusing enough, so how do I make sense of these crazy words?

Federal and state financial aid programs are great, but what’s the difference in each type and what do they mean? You should receive information from your college financial aid office explaining these programs, but here’s a brief rundown for you.

Federal Pell Grants are awarded to eligible undergraduate students who haven’t earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. The Pell Grant doesn’t have to be repaid and the maximum amount awarded for the 2016-17 academic year is $5,815.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are awarded to students who also receive a Federal Pell Grant and usually have the highest financial need. These grants do not have to be repaid.

A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is a little different from the Pell or FSEOG grants because you must take certain classes and then work at a certain type of job to receive this money. If you don’t, the TEACH Grant can turn into a loan and then it must be repaid. These programs can offer students up to $4,000 a year if they qualify.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant provides money to college or career students that do not qualify for a Pell Grant and lost a parent or guardian, who was a member of the U.S. armed forces and died in military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11.

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for eligible students on a college campus or in an approved nonprofit organization or public agency. Students work a specified number of hours each week and typically earn minimum wage.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program offers Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans are made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The Direct Unsubsidized Loans are also made to eligible undergraduate students, but the student doesn’t have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.

The Direct PLUS Loan is offered to parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for their educational expenses.

The Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) is offered to eligible Oklahoma residents who attend eligible college and career technology centers in Oklahoma.

All federal and state programs are awarded based on eligibility provided on the FAFSA application. Be sure to apply as soon after October 1 as possible.

Check with your school’s financial aid office if you have questions or to determine if they participate in these programs. For more information, visit UCanGo2.org or StudentAid.ed.gov.

 

What’s all the hype about the FAFSA? Why is it so important?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application submitted to the federal government. It’s basically a snapshot 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 able 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, only to be pleasantly surprised to find that they are eligible to receive one or more types of aid. Keep in mind that many scholarship applications now require a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is the report you receive after you submit your FAFSA.

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 2017-18 FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1 this year. Visit FAFSA.gov for more information.

How to Get a Head Start This Summer

If you’ll be a senior in high school this fall you may already be showing early signs of senioritis*. You’re probably busy wondering where you’ll go to college, what classes you’ll take, and whether or not you’ll live on campus. While going to college or a career technology center is a great new chapter in your life, don’t forget about one of the most important things… paying for it!

The one form you’ll need to apply for federal financial aid and some state aid is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will be available Oct. 1 this year. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid.

To electronically sign and complete the FAFSA online, you and your parent will each need an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). The FSA ID is a username and password that you’ll use to access your FAFSA, make corrections, access income tax documents and sign the form. Creating your FSA ID takes about 7-10 minutes, so why not do it this summer? Here’s what you do:

    1. From a secure computer go to the Federal Student Aid website.
    2. Create a username and password, and enter your email address.
    3. Enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, contact information and challenge questions and answers.
    4. Review your information, and read and accept the terms and conditions.
    5. Confirm your email address using the secure code, which will be sent to the email address you entered when you created your FSA ID. Once you verify your email address, you can use it instead of your username to log in.

You can use your FSA ID to sign a FAFSA right away. Only the owner of the FSA ID should create and use the account and you should never share your FSA ID.

Now you’ve completed one important step in the FAFSA process. Hang on to the FSA ID information to use in early October when you complete your FAFSA. You’ll also use the FSA ID in future years, so be sure to save it somewhere safe and somewhere you’ll remember it.

*Senioritis: Noun
A supposed affliction of students in their final year of high school or college, characterized by a decline in motivation or performance.
“I try not to let my grades suffer from my senioritis”

College Planning Tools for You!

StartWithFAFSA.org is part of the outreach initiative at the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP). OCAP provides college access, aid awareness, financial literacy and student loan management services that benefit students, parents, schools and community partners. OCAP’s initiatives include UCanGo2, Oklahoma Money Matters and Ready Set Repay, each of which offers resources and tools designed specifically for you, including:

College Planning Checklists – provide high school students detailed information about the steps they must take not only to gain admission to a college or university, but also to be successful in high school and college. From what classes to take to financial aid application guidelines, these checklists offer useful information for every high school student.

Your Money Matters Guides – designed to help students and adults manage finances, each guide is tailored to provide specific information based on your current financial situation.

Borrow Smart from the Start – provides information to help students understand the smart and responsible way to borrow student loans. Whether you’re preparing for college and considering student loans for the first time, in your grace period or currently repaying your loan, this publication provides everything a student loan borrower needs to know before borrowing.

Each of our initiatives offers a variety of information and resources designed to fit your needs. Check out our publications/resources pages at UCanGo2.org, OklahomaMoneyMatters.org and ReadySetRepay.org to find more useful tools and information.