If you complete the early FAFSA in the fall you could receive financial aid offers by the end of the year. During the transitional period, many institutions are still considering their timeframes, but some have confirmed they will make their offers weeks earlier than was previously possible. If you have carefully compared packages from all of your colleges, you are ready to accept a financial aid offer.
Each college might have slight variations on their approach, so be sure to read the instructions or check out their website, but here is what you will generally need to do:
• Tell the school which financial aid you want to accept: Each college’s award letter includes all of the financial aid you can receive – grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans. They will ask you to indicate which financial aid you want to accept. Look carefully at your options and make an informed decision. Of course you will want to accept all forms of aid which you do not have to repay, such as grants and scholarships, but understand any conditions that are associated with these amounts. If you believe you have the ability to split your time between work and studies, then you should also accept the work-study offer.
• Think about the student loan offers: Each college will then list all of the student loans you may access – subsidized, unsubsidized, and parent. You may accept all or a portion of these loans. Accept subsidized loans first as the federal government will subsidize the interest on these while you are in school. Think carefully about other options you might have to raise money, and your ability to repay loans after graduation. If other student loans are included in your offer, be sure to learn about their interest rates and repayment options before you continue.
• You can accept less than what is offered: You might decide that you can save money on living expenses, or that you only need help for one semester instead of two. Follow the directions to let the school know that you will not be borrowing the full amount indicated.
Your acceptance might be completed online or on paper. Accepting student loans might require you to sign a promissory note or attend entrance counseling. Be aware that the offer is only for one year, and you will need to submit a FAFSA again next year.
After making your acceptance, go back to the other colleges on your list and decline their offers so they can allocate your portion of financial aid to other potential students. For more information on financial aid, schedule a free strategy session with College Financial Aid Advisors now!
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