Financial aid can seem intimidating because not only are you unsure about how the whole process works, but you also have little idea of how much, if anything, you can expect to get. And if you’re a first-generation college student your parents may not be able to provide much guidance. In any case, you’re far from alone; it’s not at all unusual for students and their families to feel overwhelmed. After all, this is your life – your future – we’re talking about.
To help shed light on the subject, here are some common questions about financial aid – answered.
What is the Issue?
All this “financial aid” talk makes many college student hopefuls — as well as their parents if they’ve never been through this – mighty anxious. There are so many factors that figure into the process, plus a myriad of new-to-you terms and constructs, that it’s easy to put off looking into it. But waiting too long is a big no-no. For planning purposes, you want to find out as early as possible what you’re eligible for. And there are deadlines to consider.
Rest assured that you’re likely eligible for something, since a whopping 86.4% of first-year undergrads get some form of financial aid.
Which Colleges Have the Best Financial Aid?
You’re right to ask because schools can differ in that way. You’ve got in-state students, students from out of state, and public and private schools, all with different tuition price tags and, yes, financial aid policies. Go to the website of the schools you’re interested in to see whether your questions or concerns are answered there. If they aren’t, don’t hesitate to call the schools’ financial aid or admissions office.
Should I Apply for College and Financial Aid at the Same Time?
Well, you won’t get any cash until you’ve enrolled at a school. Having said that, you are free to apply for aid any time, even before you’ve selected a school. In fact, The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens annually on Oct. 1. Just make sure you finish the application before the school’s deadline, and you also must keep track of state and federal submission cutoff dates.
Can I Get Financial Aid to Give Me More?
You can appeal the college’s financial aid decision. Whether you should or not depends on your circumstances. Perhaps you or a parent are newly unemployed, or there’s some other unexpected calamity that will significantly hamstring your ability to pay for school and other expenses.
If you wind up with private loans, and high-interest ones at that, student loan refinance could be an option that can save you money and even streamline your bill paying. What is refinancing? It’s basically when a private lender pays off your current loans and issues you another loan with a lower rate.
How Often Must I Apply for Financial Aid?
Usually, you’ll need to apply every year you’re enrolled in school. Why? Because your family’s finances, as well as your eligibility, may change. As far as the FAFSA’s concerned, though, you won’t to go through that again in its entirety. You can simply submit a Renewal FAFSA that already contains your basic info, info that isn’t likely to change from year to year.
You likely could relate to those common questions about financial aid. Hopefully, you’re now feeling relieved and are ready to take on this next chapter in your life. And remember, if you need a private student loan or even refinancing in the future, we’ve found that Juno has the best rates out there.