Category Archives: UCanGo2 Resources

February is Financial Aid Awareness Month!

Did you know that in fiscal year 2016, over 13 million students received a total of $125.7 billion in Federal Student Aid (FSA)? The FSA programs provide grants, work-study funds and loans to students who attend colleges, universities, technical centers or career schools. AND, you may not know that The State of Oklahoma also administers several scholarships and grants that can help you pay for college. So, now that you’re aware of this, how can you find out if you qualify for any of the aid?

The only way to know if you qualify is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’re not committing to any school or any funding when you complete the FAFSA; you’re simply investigating your options to determine what types of aid you may be qualified to receive. Here are three common myths about financial aid that we’re about to bust wide open:

Myth: If I’m not poor, very smart or super-talented, I won’t qualify for financial aid.
Reality: While it is true that there are need-based programs available to students who come from lower income families, remember that financial aid comes in many different forms. Be sure to investigate scholarships that come from private funding as well. They’re everywhere, and they’re given for a wide variety of reasons.

Myth: I’ve got several scholarships lined up, so I don’t need to submit a FAFSA.
Reality: There are many costs of college that can add up quickly, including tuition, fees, books, room and board, transportation, etc. To be safe, submit a FAFSA to investigate other funding possibilities in the event that your scholarships don’t cover all of those costs. You can always turn down any aid that’s offered to you.

Myth: I’m going to pay my own way through college, so there’s no need for my parents to report their income and tax information on my FAFSA.
Reality: Paying your own way does not automatically make you an independent student. Most first-year college students are considered to be dependent, which means need-based aid could be based on your income and your parents’ income and assets.

To see if you would be considered a dependent or independent student on the FAFSA, check out the Dependency Questionnaire at UCanGo2.org.

How Do I Add a College Code to my FAFSA?

Are you considering transferring to another college at the end of the spring semester? If so, you may need to add your new school’s college code to your FAFSA. Once the code has been added, the new school will be able to discuss your eligibility for financial aid at their institution. Follow these steps to add one or more school codes:

  • Go to FAFSA.gov.
  • Under “Returning User?” click “Add a School.”
  • Enter your Login information.
  • Search for the new college by city and state or school name, or enter the Federal School Code if you already know it.
  • Click “ADD”
  • Verify that the school is showing correctly in the Selected Schools column.
  • Add more schools if necessary.
  • Click “Submit.”
  • Be sure to follow up by checking your email and/or snail mail frequently and responding to any requests for materials from the school(s) you recently added.

Congratulations on taking another step to achieve your goals!

How Do I Make Changes To My FAFSA?

Here’s a common question this time of year: “I recently received my Student Aid Report (SAR), and after looking it over I discovered that some changes need to be made to my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). What should I do?”

If you’re correcting an error you made, log into your FAFSA at fafsa.gov, and then click on “Make FAFSA Corrections.” Some of the most common FAFSA changes made by students are:

  • Adding or deleting college codes
  • Changing an e-mail or street address
  • Making corrections to any field other than your Social Security Number (SSN)

You shouldn’t change any field containing financial information or marital status unless you’re sure that it was entered incorrectly on the application. Use extreme caution on the FAFSA questions that include the phrase “on the day you submitted your FAFSA.” Even though certain figures and circumstances may have changed since you completed your FAFSA, those answers were most likely true on the day you submitted the form.

If you discover that your Social Security Number is incorrect, you can change it in one of two ways:

  • Make the correction by hand on a paper copy of your SAR, sign and date it and then send it to Federal Student Aid.
  • Ask the financial aid office at one of the colleges listed on your SAR to change it for you.

If you’re not successful in changing your Social Security Number, you’ll need to file a new FAFSA that contains the correct SSN.

To request a copy of your paper SAR or to ask any questions about the FAFSA process, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1.800.433.3243.

Scholarships: Apply early, apply often!

In addition to receiving federal and state financial aid, scholarships are a great way to help pay for education beyond high school since scholarships do not have to be repaid. Here are some resources and tips to help you get your search started!

  • Complete your FAFSA! Some scholarships require a completed FAFSA to apply.
  • Check with the institution you’re attending. Career technology centers, colleges and universities offer scholarships to both incoming freshmen and returning students. Check your school’s website to learn how and when to apply.
  • Create an OKcollegestart.org account. The scholarship profile allows you to search over 20,000 scholarships nationwide. Providing your GPA, test scores, interests and activities allows OKcollegestart to match you with scholarships that are most relevant to you.
  • Visit UCanGo2.org to search scholarships by deadline so you never miss out on an opportunity. You can also see scholarships with upcoming deadlines based on several categories such as those for members of the military, awards for those interested in the arts and scholarships for adult learners.
  • Review Are You Looking for Money? This handy guide provides tips on how to make the most of your scholarship search and provides links to several scholarship search websites.
  • Apply, apply, apply! It’s never too early or too late to apply for scholarships. Whether you’re in elementary school or working on your Ph.D., there are scholarships available!

Best of luck!

Federal Student Loans: Pros and Cons

The FAFSA is one application for a variety of federal and state financial aid programs. The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is one. Before accepting loans, be sure you understand how they work. Student loans are in investment in your future, and the following information can help you be a smart investor.

Pros

  • Student loans are disbursed at a fixed rate, meaning the interest rate for the loan will never change. This is often considerably lower than private student loan sources. The interest rate for federal student loans disbursed during the 2017-18 school year is 4.45%.
  • No credit check is required. Federal student loans are available to you because you’re pursuing education beyond high school.
  • For students who qualify for subsidized student loans, the federal government pays the interest on your loan while you’re still in school, saving you money in the long run.
  • When it’s time to repay your student loans, you’ll have several repayment plan choices designed to fit your specific needs.

Cons

  • Not all students qualify for subsidized student loans. The information you provide on your FAFSA determines eligibility.
  • Student loans must be repaid, and debt adds up quickly. Keep track of your student loan debt while you’re in school by visiting the National Student Loan Data System.
  • There is a cap to how much you can borrow, so be sure you’re seeking other types of financial aid as well.

To learn more about how to be a smart borrower, check out ReadySetRepay.org. You’ll find information about borrowing smart from the start, estimating your loan payments, and repayment options.

Apply Now

During your Thanksgiving break, be sure to carve out some time to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2018-19 academic year. It may sound like Fall, 2018 is a long time away, but consider these reasons to apply now:

  • Some forms of financial aid are first-come, first-served. When this type of aid is gone, you may have to wait for the next school year to apply for it again.
  • More and more colleges are setting early enrollment and institutional scholarship deadlines in November and December. During the application process, they’ll want to know if you’ve submitted your FAFSA.
  • It’s not uncommon for a scholarship committee to ask for a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) that you receive after you submit your FAFSA. Completing your FAFSA early ensures that you won’t miss important deadlines.

For more information about completing the FAFSA, visit StudentAid.ed.gov.

What is Federal Work-Study?

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for students to earn money to help pay for school. Work-Study positions exist in various departments across campus (and sometimes off campus).

There are several perks to Work-Study positions. First, they’re flexible. Schools know a student’s classes are their number one priority, and they know class schedules change each semester, so they work with students to build work schedules around class schedules. They are also often flexible if students need time off to study for a test or work on a class project.

Second, Work-Study jobs exist all across campus. Students can work in the bookstore, with the grounds or maintenance crews, in an academic department or in a variety of other areas. Some schools even have Work-Study positions off campus. This allows students to find a job that fits their interests.

Finally, Work-Study positions offer competitive pay. Students will earn at least minimum wage. At some schools, pay starts above minimum wage or increases with length of employment.

Work-Study funds are limited, so students should complete the FAFSA early and begin applying for Work-Study jobs as soon as possible.

To learn more about the Federal Work-Study program, visit the Federal Student Aid website or ask the financial aid off at your college.