What you need to know about financial aid

4 things to remember

What you need to know about financial aid

Fill out the FAFSA

Fill out this standard application at fafsa.ed.gov. It allows you to apply for financial aid at your colleges of choice (like scholarships, grants and work study) and from the federal and state government (which includes subsidized funds and other types of aid). “It is the smartest way to start,” says Brendan Coughlin, President of Education Finance for RBS Citizens Financial Group.


Do your homework

You might still find yourself needing money to afford tuition and housing at your college. So you need to take the time and research different financial aid options (including grants, scholarships, work study and loans). No matter what you decide, you should do your homework and figure out exactly what is best for you and those who are investing in your education. 


Apply for private loans

This is a process where a student (and usually parents) works with a consultant to find financing options that are best for him or her. Coughlin recommends only starting the loan process after you file the FAFSA and receive financial aid packages. It is important to know exactly how much you need to afford that year in college, because banks do not want to “over-lend,” or give you more than is necessary.


Pre-plan/Keep track of your finances

No matter where you are in your financial aid process — and especially if you receive a loan — it is pertinent that you know exactly what you have, what you need, and what you will owe. Be fiscally aware and responsible throughout your time at college.


Rachel Montpelier is the editorial assistant at NextStepU. She is currently a senior at Nazareth College.

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