It’s March and spring has sprung! It’s that time of year when everything feels fresh and new, and you can actually smell opportunity in the air.
This month in your financial aid process, some of you are probably beginning to receive college decision letters. It’s an exciting time to celebrate your acceptances, decide about your wait lists and deal positively with your rejections.
It’s also time to finalize your financial aid applications if you haven’t already done so. Not sure if you’re eligible for financial aid? Most students are, so I’ve included an article detailing what is required. The majority of financial aid awards are made on a first-come, first-served basis, so I’m also sharing an article detailing the financial aid verification process as well as one that details the eligibility requirements.
Don’t give up! Continue searching and applying for scholarships and grants, and remember to stay focused on your grades! I hope that you and your family are enjoying spring and all that it has to offer. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, I am here to help make the financial aid process easier for you.
Financial Aid: Am I Eligible?
Want to know whether you're eligible for financial aid? The good news is that most students are able to find some much needed financial support, whether in the form of loans, scholarships, or grants.
The financial information you submit on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) helps determine your aid eligibility. The amount of aid you receive depends on elements such as asset and income information from you and - if you are a dependant student - your family; available federal and institutional funding; the cost of attending the school of your choice; and other variables.
The three basic components in most financial aid packages are:
The basic formula is [COA - EFC = Financial need]. Within the basic formula, a number of variables determine your precise aid package. The following variables can affect the amounts and types of aid you receive from the educational institution:
Cost of Attendance (COA): the amount the school calculates it costs to attend their institution;
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): based on information submitted on your FAFSA, the amount that you and your family are expected to contribute toward your education;
Financial need: the total anticipated amount of funding you need to meet the cost of attending the institution.
Due to the steadily increasing cost of education and the finite amount of funding available to meet those costs, students may find a gap between the cost of education and the grants, loans, and scholarships available. Some types of aid, such as federal grants, are entitlements for which students are eligible regardless of where they attend school. At the institutional aid level, available funding may change yearly, and in most cases, colleges and universities try to target their financial aid funds to those with the highest level of need.
Amount of funding you receive from other sources--federal and state grants, scholarships, VA benefits, and employer financial aid are a few examples of sources that might provide funding
Available financial aid--some schools may have substantial funding for grants, loans, and scholarships in addition to federal and state funds
More About the College Aid Verification Process
Verification is the confirmation that the information provided on your FAFSA is correct. Approximately 30% of all FAFSA's are randomly selected by the federal processor for verification.
The federal government requires colleges and universities to verify the data reported by students and their parent(s) on the FAFSA. The verification process ensures that eligible students receive all the financial aid to which they are entitled and prevents ineligible students from receiving financial aid to which they are not entitled.
Most FAFSA's that are selected for verification are chosen randomly. However, if you make changes to your FAFSA information, you may be selected for verification even if you were not selected on your initial application.
Verification is a federal regulation. Students who are selected for verification are not being punished; rather verification prevents ineligible students from receiving aid by reporting false information and ensures that eligible students receive all of the aid for which they are qualified.
If you would like to receive any state or federal funds, participation in the verification process is not optional. Be sure to respond to requests for documentation in a timely manner to avoid delays in processing and applying your financial aid to your student account. You must provide the required documentation as soon as possible, but no later than three weeks prior to the end of the semester or before you withdraw from classes.
Federal Aid Eligibiiity
Eligibility for federal student aid is based on financial need and several other factors. The financial aid administrator at the college or career school you plan to attend will determine your eligibility.
To receive aid, you must:
demonstrate financial need (except for certain loans);
have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, pass an ability-to-benefit (ATB) test approved by the U.S. Department of Education, meet other standards your state establishes that the Department approves, complete a high school education in a home school setting that is treated as such under state law, or have satisfactorily completed six credit hours or the equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate;
be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program. Note: You might be able to receive aid for distance education courses as long as they are part of a recognized certificate or degree program;
be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen;
have a valid Social Security Number;
maintain satisfactory academic progress once in school;
certify that you are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant;
certify that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.
Even if you are ineligible for federal aid, you should complete the FAFSA because you may be eligible for nonfederal aid from states and private institutions. If you regain eligibility during the award year, notify your financial aid administrator immediately.
A financial aid administrator can consider special or unusual circumstances such as unusual medical expenses, tuition expenses, or unemployment and can adjust your cost of attendance or some of the information used to calculate your financial aid award.
It is never too early to get the support and expertise to fund your student’s education. Call me, your personal college financial aid consultant, at 562.598.1162 or email me at email@example.com
for your complimentary one on one consultation.
All the best,
Financial Aid Consultant
College Financial Aid Advisors