Put These 5 Items on Your Financial Aid New Year’s To-Do List Now

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A new year always brings a flurry of resolutions and to-do lists, some of which even get fulfilled. Why is it so hard do things we know will benefit us in the long run? Do something different this year, and make a to-do list you can actually use. For high school seniors and their parents this means sitting down and paying close attention to the financial aid aspect of attending college. Put these five items on your to-do list now and you’ll have a better chance of being able to pay for the school of your dreams:

1. File the FAFSA: No two ways about it – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the entry point for all things having to do with college financial aid. It is the gateway to federal aid, and many states and colleges use it to determine your eligibility for financial assistance as well. The new 2014-2015 FAFSA is available online now. Since some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis the sooner you fill it out, the better your chances of receiving the highest amount of aid to which you are entitled.

2. Check Your Work: The number one reason for failing to receive the maximum amount of financial aid is errors on the FAFSA. Don’t submit your form until you have checked all of your work. If you are not sure of something, ask someone.

3. Watch Deadlines: Each state has a different deadline for submitting your information. Some are a lot earlier than you might expect.

4. Understand the Financial Aid Process: You want to obtain the greatest amount of financial aid, scholarships, and grants first as this is money that does not have to be repaid. If there is still a gap, you will need to explore private financial lending sources.

5. Keep Looking for Scholarship: There is scholarship money available in many different shapes and forms. Some have earlier deadlines than others, and amounts vary from small to large, but it is well worth your time to expand your scholarship hunt.

Resolve To Seek Help When Needed

Most people are not born knowing how to complete the financial aid process, and few have the time available to fully learn all of its intricacies. There are professionals available who understand all aspects of this process. Talk to your high school counselor, the financial aid office at your college, or Federal Student Aid has live chat sessions available. All of these people can help make it easier and less stressful for you. It can also be helpful to speak with a college financial aid advisor who is totally focused on helping you receive the highest amount of financial aid available.

Set up an appointment now for a free financial aid strategy session with College Financial Aid Advisors (CFAA).