The only thing harder than applying to college is figuring out how to pay for college. The key to finding and receiving money for college is to keep in mind that financial aid is an ongoing process.
At this point in the game, you should be completing the FAFSA and the application for state aid (linked to the FAFSA). Remember to go back and make amendments to the forms after you have done your family’s taxes. Income will determine any non-academic financial aid. Work in high school, extracurriculars, GPA and test scores will be responsible for any academic scholarships.
Here’s the good news: The financial aid package does not solely determine money for college. Keep looking for scholarships, grants and rewards. Go to the school counselor’s office and ask for advice.
Not a senior? You still have work to do!
Be sure to plan early and stay ahead of the game. If you already have a few colleges you’d to apply to, look up their “estimated” cost for the 2014-2015 school year. It likely won’t be the same amount that you will end up paying, but it’s a good way to get an idea of what tuition and fees may cost. Compare bottom lines, and look up financial aid and the types of scholarships available. Make sure you find out the percentage of students receiving financial aid.
Next, schedule an appointment with the school counselor. Ask some questions about the FAFSA and whether there will be financial aid workshops. You should also find out whether your school has applications for local scholarships. You might not be able to apply now, but it is good to know how to access them later on.
Finally, start saving. Get a job, buy a piggy bank and start a checking account. You may not save enough to make a huge dent in your future tuition bill, but this cash will help subsidize your books, school supplies, groceries and gas during college. Believe me, having a nest egg for college is very important.
Moral of the story
Getting money for college is overwhelming and can be extremely stressful. But stay organized and the benefits can be extremely rewarding.
> For more information about financial aid check out NextStepU.com/FinancialAid!