Category Archives: Grants and scholarships

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!

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.

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.

Oklahoma’s Financial Aid Programs

The state of Oklahoma offers several financial aid programs. Start applying for these programs by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant Program (OTAG)
OTAG is a need-based program for Oklahoma residents who are enrolled full-time or part-time in undergraduate courses at eligible colleges, universities and career technology centers in Oklahoma. The OTAG application is available within the FAFSA. OTAG funds are limited, so it’s important to submit the FAFSA as early as possible each year you need financial aid for college.

Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant Program (OTEG)
OTEG awards grants to Oklahoma students attending eligible not-for-profit, private or independent institutions. Funds are limited for this program, so be sure to submit your FAFSA early.

Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship Program
Oklahoma’s Promise allows eighth-, ninth- or 10th-grade students from families with an income of $50,000 or less to earn a college tuition scholarship. Students must also meet academic and conduct requirements in high school and submit the FAFSA during their senior year of high school. Upon completion of the program’s requirements, students earn:

  • Tuition at an Oklahoma public two-year college or four-year university.
  • OR a portion of tuition at an accredited Oklahoma private college or university.
  • OR a portion of tuition for courses at public technology centers that are approved for credit toward an Associate of Applied Science degree at a public college.

Academic Scholars Program
The Academic Scholars Program awards scholarships to Oklahoma residents who score in the 99.5 percentile on the ACT or SAT exam. It’s also available to students who are named National Merit Scholars or finalists, Presidential Scholars or Institutional Nominees.

Other scholarship opportunities unique to the state of Oklahoma include:

Be sure and check these out to see if you’re eligible!

 

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.

 

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.

Turn Your Holiday Break into Money for College

Everyone knows paying for college expenses can put a dent in your budget. But did you know scholarships can help you reduce that dent? If you haven’t applied for scholarships yet, now’s the time. It’s recommended that high school seniors apply for two to three scholarships per week and high school juniors should apply for one or more per week. There are scholarships available for students of all ages, but you won’t receive scholarship money unless you apply for it!

With the holiday break approaching, use some of your free time to get motivated and intensify your search. Explore these resources:

    • Scholarship search websites, including UCanGo2.org
    • Scholarships books in the library or local bookstore
    • Local businesses
    • Churches
    • Parents’ employers
    • Google.com
    • Club/organization affiliation with students and parents
    • College recruitment and financial aid offices
    • High school counselors