Category Archives: UCanGo2 Resources

FAFSA Resources

StartWithFAFSA.org is dedicated to informing you about all things FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). With this mission in mind, we have developed numerous resources to help you navigate the FAFSA process. On our Resources page, we provide links to local and national websites to help you learn about and complete the FAFSA. You can also find a list of publications, tools and videos that highlight specific areas of interest.

If you’re looking for a quick overview of FAFSA completion, check out our YouTube page and learn about The FAFSA in Five (also in Spanish). This short video will give you the highlights of FAFSA completion in five easy steps. Not a video person? You can also learn how to Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps through our online brochure.

To learn essential details about the FAFSA, look over the FAFSA Facts and FAFSA Parent flyers. Both of these resources offer guidance and aim to answer common questions and concerns that students and parents have about the application.

Before you start the application, you’ll need to create your FSA ID, which will be used as your electronic signature for the FAFSA. The FSA ID Worksheet (also available in Spanish) will guide you and your parent through the FSA ID creation process. You will also need to make sure you use the correct version of the FAFSA. To learn which year’s application you need to complete, review our FAFSA Completion Chart and match-up your information.

By completing the FAFSA, you are applying for federal and some state financial aid. You can continue looking for financial aid in the form of scholarships by visiting UCanGo2.org and OKCollegeStart.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook to find more scholarships and FAFSA info!

Welcome Back!

WELCOME BACK!

You’re about to begin another academic year, full of promise—with maybe just a few challenges thrown in here and there.

Whether you’re a returning college student or just entering college for the first time, you may have questions about how you can cover the costs of college this year. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Check your FSA ID status. This is the user name and password that you set up before you filed your first FAFSA, and it serves as your electronic signature. If you haven’t used your FSA ID in a while, it may need to be re-enabled. This can be done at the manage my FSA ID tab at fsaid.ed.gov.
  • If you haven’t already, submit your FAFSA! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is still available for academic year 2018-2019. Go to FAFSA.gov to start your application.
  • Apply for institutional aid (scholarships that come from your college), and reapply each semester.
  • Search for more scholarships. To start, we suggest UCanGo2.org and okcollegestart.org.

Find a part-time job. Many schools participate in the federal work-study program. If you demonstrate financial need, you may be able to work part-time on campus or an approved site off-campus. The money you earn at a work-study job is then used to help you pay your college expenses. If you don’t qualify for work-study or your school doesn’t participate in the WS program, watch for job opportunities posted around your campus and online.

Grants, Work-Study and Student Loans

As you begin exploring different forms of financial aid, three terms will stand out: grants, work-study and student loans. These are the three primary forms of aid that the federal government distributes through the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). By completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’re applying to receive these various types of financial aid for school.

Grants and scholarships, which are given to eligible students to help them pay higher education expenses, are the best form of aid you can receive, as they typically don’t need to be repaid. The Pell Grant is the most notable federal grant; it’s awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need. Students can receive up to $6,095 from the Pell Grant for the 2018-19 school year. The OTAG is awarded to eligible Oklahoma residents enrolled in schools within the state and the FSEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) is awarded to students with exceptional financial need. Some grants do have obligations attached to them, such as the TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grant. This grant is designed to assist students who plan to teach and meet certain requirements for the grant. Not all campuses participate in this program, so students will need to check with their campus about available types of financial aid offered.

Work-Study is the form of federal aid that allows undergraduates to work part-time jobs on or off campus to earn money for school expenses. This program is administered by the school, and like grants, is based on your financial need.

The third type of aid is a federal direct student loan. A student loan is a form of aid the federal government provides to help students bridge the gap between family savings, scholarships and grants, and work study and remaining college costs. Unlike most grants or work-study, this money must be paid back with interest. While federal student loans need to be repaid, the interest accrued is often lower than it would be with a private lender, and federal student loans have more flexible repayment options than private or alternative loans.

The Direct Subsidized Loan program will lend students up to $5,500 annually depending on grade level, financial need and dependency status. The interest rate for subsidized loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 is set at 5.05 percent, and the government will pay your interest costs while you’re attending school at least half time. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to undergraduates (5.05 percent interest rate) and graduate students (6.60 percent interest rate). The government does not pay interest costs during school for unsubsidized loan borrowers, but students may make interest payments while in school to save money. If there is still a balance remaining after using all other available forms of aid, parents of dependent undergraduate students may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan. PLUS loan applicants must meet credit requirements, and the interest rate is currently set at 7.60 percent.

If you must accept a student loan to help pay for college, focus on federal loan options, and limit your borrowing to the amount you truly need to pay school expenses. For more information about paying for college, check out UCanGo2.org/pay.

Summer Checklist for Seniors

Transitioning from your junior year to your senior year of high school can be an exciting time. This is the year you’ll be rounding out your high school career and gearing up for the next phase of your life. Although it can be difficult to stay focused in all the excitement of senior year, it’s important that you stay on track and get fully prepared for college.

UCanGo2.org provides seniors, and all other high school students, with a comprehensive by-year checklist to ensure you’re ready for college. This checklist offers information to help you make the most of your final year of high school, outlines the college application and admission process and explains how to apply for federal and state financial aid and scholarships.

By following this checklist, you’ll be well-equipped to succeed in your pursuit of higher education. As Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

http://www.ucango2.org/publications/student/Senior_Checklist.pdf

New FSA ID Worksheet

Hey students! If you, and your parent, plan to electronically sign the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’ll be required to obtain an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). This ID is essentially a username and password that is used for a variety of purposes in the financial aid world such as:

  • Making online corrections to the FAFSA
  • Viewing or printing a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • Electronically signing a Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  • Completing entrance and exit loan counseling requirements
  • Reviewing a history of federal student aid received

The set up process for the FSA ID requires applicants to answer a variety of questions. That’s why our new FSA ID Worksheet –
(FSA ID Worksheet in Spanish) will be a helpful tool in this undertaking. Write down the answers to your questions here and save this form in a safe place! Then if you’ve forgotten your username or password, or possibly an answer to one of your challenge questions, you’ll have the information readily available on your FSA ID Worksheet. The FSA ID Worksheet also comes in Spanish.

Check out the Resources tab here at StartWithFAFSA.org to locate and print a copy of the FSA ID Worksheet. You’ll also find it on UCanGo2.org in the Publications section. To set up your FSA ID, visit https://fsaid.ed.gov

FSA ID Worksheet Image

Summer Preparation for College

So you’re finishing up your senior year of high school and about to transition to life as a college student. It may be tempting to use your summer break as a time to relax and recover from your final year of high school, but it’s important to begin prepping for your upcoming college experience.

If you haven’t already filled out the FAFSA, it’s not too late. You will need to complete the 2018-19 form if you are starting classes in the fall of 2018. It can take a couple weeks for your college to send you your financial aid award letter, so complete your FAFSA as soon as possible.

The summer is also the perfect time to apply for scholarships. Use some of your extra time to complete scholarship applications. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances are of winning! Don’t forget about scholarships provided by your college or university, too. For more information on those, call the campus financial aid office. You can also find a list of scholarships at UCanGo2.org and OKCollegeStart.org

If you will be living on campus, you can use the summer to start coordinating dorm needs with your roommate. You should also take a look at the school’s website to start reviewing potential associations, clubs or activities to join. Make sure you don’t overextend yourself, though; transitioning successfully from high school to college takes focus.

For more tips on preparing for college, check out our primer for high school seniors, Your Transition to College.

Tuition Wavers

When you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’re giving the college(s) of your choice a snapshot of your family’s current financial situation, enabling them to develop a plan for your financial aid ‘package’. That package may contain aid from:

  • The Federal government
  • The State of Oklahoma
  • The institution you wish to attend
  • Tribal, non-profit and private organizations

One thing that’s not listed here is a tuition waiver. So, what is a tuition waiver and how does it affect the cost of attending college?

A tuition waiver differs from a scholarship; while a scholarship is a cash award that helps you pay for various college expenses, a tuition waiver reduces the amount the college charges you. The waiver will eliminate the cost of tuition for a designated number of credit hours, but it can’t be used for any other educational expense. While there can be many reasons a school might grant a waiver, here are some of the most common:

  • Your family income demonstrates a high financial need
  • You are of Native American descent
  • You’ve overcome a significant hardship
  • You were adopted, or you were a foster child

Each college and university has its own policy regarding who meets the qualifications for a tuition waiver. Call your institution’s financial aid office to see what waivers the campus may offer and how to qualify for them. Asking a simple question could save you money.

Save Your Tax Documents for a future FAFSA!

Before applying for federal student aid, you’ll want to pull together all the necessary documentation, such as your drivers ID, Social Security card, current bank statement and your W2 and tax returns. When gathering your tax information for the FAFSA, remember that you’re required to use your tax return from two years prior. This means that if you’re completing the FAFSA to begin school in fall 2018, you’ll need your tax information from 2016. Because you must complete the FAFSA each year you need student aid, you’ll need to keep your tax information handy for the FAFSA’s you will complete while in college. Try to keep all relevant documentation together in a safe location. This will help you quickly and accurately finish all future FAFSAs.

If you’re unsure when to complete the FAFSA or what year’s tax return you will need, check out the FAFSA Completion Chart  below.

FAFSA chart explaining tax and submission dates

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.