receive your financial aid offer from a college you may be interested in
attending, it’s quite possible that one or more student loans will be included
in the offer. If you need a student loan(s) to help cover the costs of college,
you’ll want to borrow smart from the very start of your college experience to
minimize your debt after graduation. Here are some things you need to know as
you consider student loans.
- Use ‘free money’ first. Take advantage of all the gift aid you’re
offered—grants and scholarships—before deciding how much you’ll need to borrow.
- You don’t have to accept student loans. You can decline any amount of
financial aid that is offered to you. If you must borrow to pay college costs,
only borrow what you’ll need to get you through one year of college. Review
your finances each semester, and keep that commitment to borrow only what you
need to cover school expenses.
- Do your research. Some experts recommend that your monthly
loan payment should be no more than 8-10% of the monthly income you expect to
earn during the first year after graduation. To estimate your loan payments,
try the Loan Calculator found at ReadySetRepay.org.
- Subsidized = less expensive. Interest won’t be added to a subsidized
federal student loan balance until after you graduate, withdraw or drop your
class load to less than half-time status.
- Make interest payments. Students who borrow federal unsubsidized
loans are responsible for all interest on the loan as soon as their
institutions receive the first disbursement. Student loan interest payments are
generally affordable, even on a college student’s budget. If possible, keep the
interest paid down while you’re in school and during your grace period. To help
you think it through, see how two students took different paths to repay their
- Keep in touch with your lender(s) and
loan servicer(s). Always
make sure you let them know your current address, and contact them if you’re
having trouble making your payments. You can find contact information for your
lenders/servicers at StudentAid.gov under Manage
Loans. Be sure to have
your FSA ID handy—it’s the username and password you created when you submitted
your FAFSA. You’ll need it to access your federal student loan information.
- Stay informed. Find more information and FAQs at ReadySetRepay.org and StudentAid.gov.
Happy Financial Aid
Awareness Month! February is the time to learn how you can fund your education
with various financial aid options. In order to receive federal financial aid,
you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Once your
FAFSA has been submitted, your school’s financial aid office will notify you of
your aid eligibility. Before you decide which options you’ll accept, take time
to learn about the different kinds of aid that are available to you. Since they’re
all beneficial, here’s an overview of each type of financial aid.
- Scholarships. Potentially the most significant type of financial aid available is a scholarship. It’s free money you can earn from your own hard work, financial need, merit, family history, skills, hobbies or athletics. The more scholarship applications you complete, the more likely you are to win an award. While you don’t have to submit a FAFSA to apply for a scholarship, some programs may request that you do. Scholarship applications could ask you to write an essay, submit a video, take a photograph or complete a service project. To make sure your application matches the scholarship requirements, read all directions carefully before you start the process. If you’re not sure where to look for scholarships, UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org are great places to start your search. Remember that scholarships can be the additional assistance you need to help you reach your educational goals.
- Grants. Sometimes referred to as free money since they usually don’t have to be repaid, grants are given to those who demonstrate financial need. A common type of grant is the Pell Grant. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG, is not as common since it is only given to students who show extreme financial need. For students interested in becoming teachers, there’s the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, or TEACH Grant. Students interested in the TEACH Grant should carefully read all guidelines. If the grant requirements are not met, the money could turn into a loan that must be repaid with interest. Additionally, there’s the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for those who’ve lost a parent or guardian due to military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. As with any type of financial aid, be sure to speak with your financial office if you have questions about grants.
- Work-study. Also called earned aid, work-study allows students to work and earn money for college expenses while they’re in school. Work-study positions are part-time jobs that can be on or off campus. The supervisors over these positions tend to recognize that school is a priority and are usually mindful of your class schedule. Take advantage of these positions because they can give you work experience and time to focus on your academic responsibilities. Each school will have different ways to apply for a work-study job, so talk with your school to learn more about the application process.
- Student Loans. While this type of aid is borrowed money that must be repaid with interest, student loans can help you bridge the gap between grants and scholarships. When it comes to borrowed money, it’s important that you borrow only the amount you need to pay school expenses! Federal loans can be beneficial due to their fixed interest rates (it will not change over time) and flexible repayment options. One type of federal student loan is the Direct Subsidized loan. This aid is for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government will pay the accruing interest on a subsidized loan while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time. Another federal loan, the Direct Unsubsidized student loan, is for students who do not show financial need. With this loan, the interest will always be accruing on the loan and students will be responsible for paying the interest. For those who need extra financial assistance there’s the Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or the Direct PLUS loan. Parents of dependent undergraduate students can apply for the PLUS loan to help cover additional college expenses for their child. In order to receive a Direct PLUS loan, parents must complete the loan application and meet certain credit requirements. Students will have six months from the time they graduate, drop below half-time enrollment or leave school to start repaying Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. Those who take out a PLUS loan will have to start repayment once funds have been disbursed.
that you know a little more about financial aid, use this month to decide which
options could be right for you. For more financial aid information, go to StudentAid.gov.
here you are, right in the middle of the academic year. How are things going so
far? Do you have enough financial aid to pay for your spring semester in
fall semester can often reveal expenses you didn’t anticipate when you accepted
your financial aid offer at the beginning of the school year. If your budget’s
being stretched to the limit, remember to explore opportunities for
scholarships. Believe it or not, new scholarships can pop up in the spring semester,
too! Here are some places to look:
financial aid office. There may be new scholarships available, or
there may be some funds left over from a scholarship given to a student who
didn’t return for the spring semester. If you’re a high school student, check
in with your counselor and take advantage of the resources he/she has to offer.
college’s website. Institutional scholarships are often
available at various times throughout the year. It’s a good idea to check the
scholarship listings on your school’s website every week, or at least every two
the possibilities! Where do you start? Here are a few suggestions:
- UCanGo2.org/Scholarships –
Learn about the Scholarship of the Week, then search by month and scroll down to
make sure you don’t miss any application deadlines. You’ll also find a table
full of additional scholarship opportunities for each month.
- Search for brand names of restaurants, chain
stores and food producers. Search the websites of health care systems and
various law firms. Your search engine could become your best friend.
list of additional scholarship websites, see UCanGo2’s publication called Are
You Looking for Money?
The new year often comes with fresh enthusiasm for a renewed
lifestyle. Whether it’s working out regularly, eating out less or resisting the
snooze button, there is no time like the present to commit to new habits.
In addition to health and financial goals, there are some
helpful academic goals that will prove beneficial from this school year to the
completing the Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’re considered for a variety of state
and federal financial aid. We encourage you to “start” with FAFSA, and then
continue seeking scholarship opportunities throughout the year. Check out UCanGo2.org for new
scholarships by category and by deadline. Make a profile on OKcollegestart.org
to view scholarship applications that are the perfect fit for you. It’s
important to apply for as many scholarships as possible year-round, so make a
habit of applying for 2-3 scholarships a week.
Study Habits: While
your grades and GPA are not taken into consideration with your FAFSA, schools
will look at your academic achievements when deciding academic scholarship
offers as well as acceptance to their school. Your grades in college will also
determine if you maintain certain scholarship offers from year to year. To
start or keep up good study habits, check out these study tips: https://ucango2.org/publications/student/Perfect_10.pdf
Extracurricular Involvement: Many schools take more than just your
grades into consideration. Join a club or volunteer in your community after
school hours. Your involvement will look impressive on a college application.
Are you already in college? Join a club or find opportunities in your community
to share the skills and knowledge that you’re developing. It looks great on
resumes for future employers. Whether you’re still in high school or you’re
headed into the career field, extracurricular involvement is a good commitment
to make in the new year.
you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), be on the
lookout for your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is an electronic or paper
document that summarizes the data you put on your FAFSA. It also provides some
basic information about your eligibility for federal student financial aid. If
you completed, signed and submitted your FAFSA electronically, this document
will be sent to your email address within 3-5 days. If you did not include an
email address, a paper version of the SAR will be mailed to your postal address
in approximately 2-3 weeks. You can also access your SAR by logging in to your
account at FAFSA.gov.
SAR contains important information, like your Expected Family Contribution
(EFC) and your Data Release Number (DRN). The EFC is a measure of your family’s
financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law.
It’s based on the information provided on the FAFSA, but the EFC is NOT the amount
of money your family will have to pay for college. It’s a number used by your
school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you’re
eligible to receive.
DRN is located below your EFC on the SAR and is necessary if you want your
college or career school to change certain types of information on your FAFSA.
Speak with someone at your college financial aid office if there has been a
significant change in income for you or your parents or you have a special
circumstance you need to discuss with the aid administrator.
SAR might indicate that you’ve been selected for verification. This is a
process schools use to confirm the information on your FAFSA is correct. Your
college financial aid office will notify you if additional paperwork is needed
to fulfill this requirement.
the remainder of your SAR for any errors. If you find anything that should be
corrected, log back in to FAFSA.gov, access your
FAFSA, and make the necessary changes. Then enter the appropriate FSA IDs and
submit your FAFSA again.
Thanksgiving is a time to practice gratitude.
Here are some ways we can remain thankful during FAFSA (Free Application for Federal
Student Aid) and college application season.
1. Celebrate the fact that the FAFSA is a free resource for financial aid. The FAFSA serves as your
application for federal and some state financial aid for college. Whether you
receive grants, scholarships, student loans or work study, all of these will
help get you one step closer to your future goals.
2. Be grateful that you created your FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) before starting your FAFSA application,
and kept it safe on your handy FSA
ID Worksheet! The FSA ID is a username and password that you and one of
your parents create to sign the FAFSA electronically. This short task can save you time, as
submitting and signing your FAFSA online will speed up the processing period
for your application. Save your FSA ID worksheet so when you complete the FAFSA
next year you won’t have to struggle to remember your ID; you’ll only have to
reference your FSA ID worksheet for the information.
3. Remember to show your educators how much you appreciate
them. Is there an administrator, teacher or counselor who’s been especially
supportive as you plan for college? It’s easy to get caught up in the essays,
application requirements and test scores, and educators can encourage us to
persevere and answer our endless questions. Educators are an essential resource
when it comes to choosing the school you want to attend.
4. Having trouble picking your top schools? The FAFSA allows you to apply for financial
aid at up to 10 different schools. Ask your teacher or counselor to help
you find the best-fit colleges, universities or technology centers. After you’ve
narrowed down your choices and determined which schools are a good match, take
the time to thank your teacher or counselor for everything they’ve done to help
make your education journey successful.
5. Finally, be proud of your own perseverance. Once you’ve followed
the tips in Finish
the FAFSA in Five Steps and submitted your application, you can be grateful
that it’s done! (Until next year, that is.)
It’s National Scholarship Month! That means we’re raising
awareness about the numerous scholarship dollars that are available to help you
cover college expenses. For the 2016-2017 school year, the National Scholarship Providers
Association awarded over $2 billion in scholarship funds to deserving
students. That’s just one organization! There are many other companies that
offer scholarships to students preparing for college. To help you put your best
foot forward, here are a few tips to help you submit excellent scholarship
- Follow directions. It’s
important to read all scholarship instructions carefully before starting the
application. If there is a word count to abide by, be sure to meet the
requirements. Also, submit all necessary documents. Ask for letters of
recommendation, copies of your transcript and other documentation weeks before
the scholarship deadline.
- Be creative.
Think outside the box on
scholarship questions. Be creative and original when writing your essay
responses. If you’re asked why you deserve the scholarship, explain why it’s
important for you to go to college. Talk about your academic and career goals,
as well as the challenges you’ve overcome to reach those goals. Also, tell a
story only you can tell. Discuss your involvement with a school organization or
a part-time job and describe the skills you’ve gained from those opportunities.
Remember that with every experience you’ve encountered, you’ve learned
something. Use those learned lessons to fuel your essay responses.
your work. Completing a scholarship application can feel very rewarding;
however, it’s only the first step. Proofreading is the next crucial stage in
this process. Read your scholarship essay aloud to see if you need to make any
adjustments. Also, ask a non-relative, such as a teacher or counselor, to read
your essay – and be open to the constructive criticism they give you.
- Find options
that reflect your interests. Applying for scholarships can seem
like a lot of work. Yet, if you find scholarships that are interesting to you,
the application process can be enjoyable. Search for opportunities that align
with your passions. Then writing essays and creating scholarship videos will be
fun and exciting, instead of time consuming and tedious.
- Never give up! Don’t get
discouraged when you don’t receive a scholarship award; just keep applying.
Your persistence will win out in the end. Keep searching for unique
scholarships. Ask local businesses about scholarship opportunities, as well as
your current education institution. The goal of scholarships is to assist you
with covering the costs of college. The more scholarships you apply for, the
more likely you are to gain that extra assistance. To learn more about
scholarships or to search for interesting opportunities, check out our Scholarship
Success Guide or go to UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org.
October 1! That means the 2020-2021 FAFSA is available! All students planning
to start college in the fall of 2020 can now submit their application for
federal and state financial assistance. The Free Application for Federal
Student Aid, or FAFSA, allows colleges to determine your eligibility to receive
financial aid. Financial aid, which comes in the form of grants, work-study and
student loans, can help you pay for college expenses. To start your FAFSA, here
are a few tips that will help you successfully complete the form:
- Create Your FSA ID
– If you haven’t already done so, you and your parent will need to create an
FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). This username and password allow you to electronically
sign the FAFSA. It will also give you access to other financial aid documents
and websites. To create your FSA ID, go to fsaid.ed.gov.
- Gather Your Documents – For the 2020-2021 FAFSA, students will need their
parents’ tax return, W-2 and other financial information for the 2018 tax year.
If the student filed a tax return in 2018, they will need the same information.
Students should also gather their Social Security card and driver’s license, if
- Use Your Official Name – When creating your FSA ID and completing the FAFSA,
you’ll need to enter your name exactly as it’s shown on your Social Security card.
No nicknames are allowed on the FAFSA. If your name has special characters
include those as well.
- Pick Your Venue
– There are two electronic options for submitting your FAFSA. You can use the
website format, FAFSA.gov,
or you can use the mobile app, myStudentAid. These are the only two official means
for submitting your application. Remember the first “F” in FAFSA stands for
Free, so you should never pay for completing your FAFSA. Using one of these two
methods will ensure that you aren’t charge for a free application.
- Watch Your Inbox
– Once you submit your FAFSA, you’ll begin to receive information about your
application status and updates from your future school’s financial aid office. Be
on the look out for these updates and follow-up with your financial aid office
if they need additional documentation.
Utilizing these five tips
can save time and make your FAFSA completion much easier. Don’t forget, you
need to complete a FAFSA each year you need funding for college.
For more information
about the FASFA, check out www.ucango2.org
Short answer: Yes! No separate application is necessary, but you DO have to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply.
The Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant Program (OTAG) is a need-based grant program for Oklahoma residents who attend eligible colleges, universities and career technology centers in the state. Awards are approved for full-time or part-time undergraduate students. Children of military personnel from other states who currently reside in Oklahoma may also qualify for OTAG.
OTAG is a grant based on financial need, which is determined by the data students submit on their FAFSA. To apply for OTAG, a student simply has to complete a FAFSA. Typically, OTAG receives more eligible applications than can be awarded with available funds, so it’s important that your FAFSA is submitted on or shortly after October 1 each year.
Currently, the maximum annual OTAG award is the lesser of 75 percent of enrollment costs or $1,000 for students attending public colleges, universities or career technology centers, and $1,300 for students attending eligible private colleges or universities.
Another grant available from the State of Oklahoma is the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant (OTEG). It’s a need-based grant for Oklahoma residents enrolled as full-time undergraduates at certain qualified Oklahoma not-for-profit, private/independent institutions of higher education. Students must complete a FAFSA to apply. To receive OTEG, a student must also have an annual family income of $50,000 or less. OTEG award amounts are $2,000 per academic year or $1,000 per academic semester. To see a list of schools eligible to offer OTEG awards, visit OKcollegestart.org/Financial_Aid_Planning.