Category Archives: Types of Financial Aid

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.

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.

 

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.

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

 

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.