Category Archives: UCanGo2 Resources

Today is Oklahoma’s Promise Day!

Today is Oklahoma’s Promise Day! Since 1992, the Oklahoma’s Promise (OKP) scholarship has paid college tuition for over 80,000 students in our state.

If you’re an OKP recipient, you are now required to submit a FAFSA each year that you’re in college. The Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from your FAFSA will be used to determine whether or not your parents’ income exceeds $100,000 (or your income if you have been determined to be financially independent). For any year that the AGI exceeds $100,000, you won’t be eligible to receive the scholarship.

For more information about OKP requirements while you’re in college, be sure to read the FAQs for college students at okpromise.org.

Understanding Your Award Letter

After 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 from the school. This letter is very important, so be sure you’re watching for it to arrive! The award letter will notify you of the types of federal and state financial aid 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 list the amount of financial aid you can receive, but you will likely be required to accept or decline this money by a specific date. If you miss the deadline, you may be missing out on money for college!

Keep in mind you don’t have to accept everything listed on the award letter. Research the aid programs you’re 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 grants and 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’ve been accepted to more than one school, you’ll receive award letters from each institution. Be sure to compare the offers, keeping in mind the costs associated with each school as you make your decision.

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.

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.