Category Archives: UCanGo2 Resources

Concerned About the FAFSA? We Can Help!

If you need help paying for college next year, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required if you want to explore your eligibility for federal and state aid, and is also required for some grant and scholarship programs (including Oklahoma’s Promise). By completing the FAFSA, you’re not committing to any aid—you’re simply submitting a ‘snapshot’ of your family’s financial situation so you can learn about your options.

There are many helpful resources to check into, especially if you’re submitting the FAFSA for the first time.

UCanGo2.org provides great tips on how to cover the cost of college and provides information about various types of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, state aid, work-study and student loans.

StudentAid.ed.gov provides tons of information about when, how and why to submit the FAFSA.

Check out the categories and archives listed at the left here at StartWithFAFSA.org. Many common questions have been addressed in blogs that we’ve posted in the past. While you’re here, also be sure to check out our ‘FAFSA in Five’ videos! You’ll find one in English and one in Spanish.

For more Spanish resources, visit StudentAid.ed.gov/sa/resources and scroll down the page to see a list of all the publications and videos available in Spanish

The 2016-17 FAFSA is Available

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAFSA

Are you planning to take college classes this fall? Are you wondering how to pay for college? If so, you can begin the financial aid process now by submitting the 2016-17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available as of Jan. 1. The FAFSA is the application used to obtain all types of federal financial aid, some types of state financial aid and many scholarships, too. Everyone planning to enroll at a college or university should complete the FAFSA. Even if you think you, or your family, make too much money to qualify, apply anyway! Most people qualify for something, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

It’s important to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible each year. Why? Because some financial aid programs that require FAFSA information, including some grants and scholarships, have deadlines early in the year. You don’t want to miss out on any financial aid opportunities.

Not sure where to start? Check out our video to learn how to complete the FAFSA in Five Steps or download our FAFSA Five Steps brochure.

And, remember to visit at UCanGo2.org  and facebook.com/UCanGo2 for the latest college planning information, scholarship updates and more!

Please note, the 2017-18 FAFSA will be available Oct. 1, 2016. 

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 Haunted by The Ghosts of FAFSA’s Past?

While it may be true that submitting your FAFSA can make you want to scream, completing the form is now easier than ever. Don’t believe us? Here are some examples.

Paper vs. electronic
Any counselor or teacher who was around to see the original release of the first Halloween movie, will tell you they had to submit their FAFSA on paper. EEK! Imagine having to wait longer than a vampire’s lifespan for your FAFSA to make it to Illinois via snail mail, only to have it returned to you two or three weeks later with a list of errors that need to be corrected before re-mailing the form! Today, the online FAFSA can be processed and corrected in just a few days.

Worksheets vs. built-in formulas
Back in the day, there were additional worksheets that had to be completed by many FAFSA filers (anybody out there remember Worksheets A, B & C?). Those have been eliminated by fine-tuning the financial aid process.

PIN vs. FSA ID
The newest improvement to the FAFSA process is the switch from a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) system used to sign the FAFSA electronically. We’re all familiar with user IDs and passwords, and this new method is more secure and equally user-friendly. If you used a PIN on your FAFSA last year, you’ll be given step-by-step instructions for switching over to a new FSA ID when you submit your 2016-17 form. If you’d like to create your new FSA ID before you begin the application, visit fsaid.ed.gov.

The moral of the story here is not to be discouraged by the way things used to be. When it comes to college preparation and FAFSA completion, things have changed for the better. To stay up-to-date on the latest college planning news and tips, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/UCanGo2.

Oklahoma’s Promise Deadline

High school  students: Are you counting the days until your school year is over? Of course you are! But don’t let your summer bliss distract you from one very important deadline. Students in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade must submit their Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship applications by June 30, 2015.

Sophomores, June 30 is your final deadline. Any application not submitted by this deadline will be removed from the application system, and you could miss out on thousands of dollars in scholarship funds that do not have to be paid back. Don’t make this costly mistake! Submit your application right away.

To learn more about Oklahoma’s Promise and the qualifications for receiving the scholarship, visit OKPromise.org.

Don’t Rely on Luck to Pay Your Way

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find that pot o’ gold at the end ofclover the rainbow to help you pay for college?  As luck would have it, a free ride to college just isn’t in the cards for most folks. Your next best bet is to submit the Free Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). By submitting the FAFSA, you’re able to determine how much federal and state aid you may be eligible to receive to help pay for college.

Already submitted the FAFSA? It’s never too late to start applying for  scholarships. Be sure to take advantage of the helpful information provided in UCanGo2’s Scholarship Success Guide to help you as you go

Attention Parents: Your High School Senior Needs You!

As the parent of a high school senior, you know your child will soon learn what it means to lead an independent life. However, when it comes to completing the FAFSA, unless they answer “yes” to any of the questions regarding student dependency, they’re probably considered “dependent” on your finances (though special circumstances may apply).

We understand the reservations you may have about providing sensitive information on the FAFSA; especially when submitting it electronically. However, refusing to complete your part of the FAFSA for your dependent student could prevent your senior from getting financial aid to help pay for college.

Keep in mind that electronic completion of the FAFSA can save you time and help prevent errors. And, FAFSA.gov goes to great lengths to secure your information. But, if you are uncomfortable with submitting your personal information online, you do have the option to mail a paper copy of the form. However you choose to submit the FAFSA, be sure to do so as soon as possible after Oct. 1 to help maximize your child’s potential sources of financial aid.

To learn more about your filing options, visit fafsa.ed.gov/options.htm or call 1-800-4-FED-AID.