FAFSA – The First Step
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- No matter where you want to go to get more education or training after high school, the types of financial aid as well as the process to apply for it is similar.
- All colleges and training programs that offer financial aid to students require a FAFSA form be completed.
- Priority consideration is given to forms filed before January 31 of each year. An updated FAFSA will also need to be filed each January that the student remains in the program.
- You will need a PIN number to electronically apply for federal student aid and to access your U.S. Department of Education records online. Your PIN number is valid for 18 months, so get yours early as it takes up to 2 weeks. Go to the FAFSA PIN web site
- To submit your application go to the US FAFSA web site.
- For step-by-step instructions go to studentaid.ed.gov.
Some schools will require additional financial aid documents and applications; some will require a C.S.S. Profile application along with a copy of the parent’s current tax return, and others may require an additional form that is specific to the college. Always ask for information about all of the forms that each school requires, as they can be different.
Types of Funding
The financial aid package (or offer) from each college will most likely consist of a variety of types of financial aid; some grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. Colleges hope to meet all student need with this package, but sometimes they are unable to meet 100% of the need. Most often, notification of admission comes first and then the total financial aid offer comes separately at a later date. Students admitted to several schools can compare their financial aid offers when they all come in, and help is available in the counseling center to interpret the aid letters.
Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back. In addition to what the colleges or universities can offer in financial aid, students can and should apply for “outside” or “private” scholarships in an effort to gather more financial aid for their education.
In our Career Center, we post many of these scholarships for students from lots of agencies, businesses, philanthropic and community service groups. Scholarships are available in large part to seniors only, but we get a considerable number for any student regardless of grade level. All of our students should check the scholarship postings in the Career Center on a weekly basis and apply to any that they qualify for.
Additionally, we have computers in the career center that can access several huge national scholarship websites, which students should also connect to early and consistently in their high school career. The Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) offers one application for over 250 scholarships to Oregon students through private donors. The deadline for the OSAC application is March 1.
Many scholarships require student essays and some require letters of recommendation as well. Often they will also ask for an “Activities Resume,” which students will need for many college applications and scholarships. Heavy emphasis is sometimes placed on the community service activities that the student has been involved in, so student should get involved in these activities early in high school.
Work-study funds are earned by the student while working in college at jobs that are subsidized by the government. You should speak with the college admissions officer to find out what types of work-study opportunities are available.
Student and parent loans have to be paid back, with interest rates and payback times varying by the loan source and type. Loans will likely be a significant portion of the student aid package. The Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Direct Loans and Federal Plus loans (parent loans), are primary sources for these funds. Some federal loans are subsidized and some are un-subsidized. “Subsidized” means that no interest accrues while the student is enrolled in college. Un-subsidized means that interest accrues as soon as the student or parent receives the funds. Some states and colleges also offer loans, as do private lenders in the community.
There are, of course, a variety of ways to save for college and tax implications that are associated with each. We recommend you talk with a personal financial planner to find out what is best for your family.
Eligibility for Financial Aid
Students are eligible for financial aid based on two general types of criteria.
Family Financial Need is determined primarily through submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA), which is an application that is completed utilizing the financial information of the family, including the high school senior. The application is submitted in January of the student’s senior year to the federal processor, which then calculates the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for the student’s first year in college. The EFC information is sent to the student and also to the colleges that the student requests on the FAFSA.
Student Merit is what the student contributes to the school in terms of special talents or skills, exceptional grades or test scores, rigorous courses taken, interest in certain majors or departments or affiliation with specific organizations.
The Western Undergraduate Exchange Program (WUE)
This program offers students from participating states the chance to enroll in designated four-year institutions in other participating states at a special reduced tuition level – making the cost of attending some out-of-state colleges nearly the same as in-state costs. Be aware, though, that many colleges have very early WUE application deadlines. Some as early as January 31 of each year. Once you’ve been accepted, as long as you mean certain performance standards, you will automatically get the reduced rate for the entire four years. However, at many schools, you must apply as an incoming freshman. If you miss the deadline for your freshman year, you won’t be eligible for it in your sophomore year. Be sure to check with your college of choice to see if they particate in this program.
Fill out only one form and apply for 250 scholarships!
MARCH 1 DEADLINE
The Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) offers one application for over 250 scholarships to Oregon students through private donors. The deadline for the OSAC application is March 1.