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

Don’t Miss the Oklahoma’s Promise Deadline!

Students in 8th, 9th or 10th grade: Don’t miss this very important deadline!

If you’re interested in applying for the Oklahoma’s Promise (OKP) scholarship, don’t wait until it’s time to submit your FAFSA! The deadline for submitting your OKP application this year is July 2, 2018.*

To enroll in the Oklahoma’s Promise program, you must be:

  • An Oklahoma resident
  • Enrolled in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade in an Oklahoma high school (homeschool students must be age 13, 14 or 15); and
  • A student whose parents earn $55,000 or less per year.

Special income provisions may apply to:

  • Children adopted from certain court-ordered custody and children in the custody of court-appointed legal guardians
  • Families receiving Social Security disability and death benefits.

To apply now or to learn more about the program, visit okpromise.org.

*Note: Any 2017-2018 application not submitted by the application deadline of July 2, 2018 will be removed from the system. Students who will be in the 8th, 9th or 10th grade in 2018-2019 will have to start a new application when it is available. High school sophomores who have not submitted their applications by July 2, 2018 will not be eligible for the program.

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

Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan

The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan allows families to deposit funds into an account that will earn interest over time. When higher education costs arise, families will be able to use the funds from this account to help pay for their child’s education. It only takes a few minutes to set up an account online. There are a variety of low-cost investment options to choose from, and funds can be electronically deposited into the account or mailed in.

529 Plan funds can be used at most accredited colleges and universities in the United States. Expenses that the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan will cover include tuition, fees, books, supplies, certain room and board costs, and some technology equipment required for courses.

Saving for the future isn’t always easy, but being financially ready when your child goes to college will be well worth the investment. Here are a few things to think about when considering opening an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan:

  1. Contributions made to the 529 Plan grow as tax-free earnings in the account and can be deducted from your Oklahoma taxable income.
  2. Regular contributions, even if they start as small amounts, add up over time. Consider making small automatic contributions or direct deposits into the account every pay period.
  3. Don’t wait, and don’t panic if your child is closer to college than diapers. Whether your child is in pre-school or high school, start saving for higher education expenses today. Focus on saving as much as you can afford within your means.
  4. A 529 Plan account can be a community effort. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and family friends can contribute to your child’s 529 Plan account. Encourage family members to contribute to the fund for children’s birthdays and holiday gifts.

For complete information about the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, visit OK4saving.org.

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.