Attending college can make a huge difference for your child. It can lead to a higher paying job and better quality of life. There is a lot riding on the Student Air Reports which high school seniors and their parents should be receiving now. If you completed the FAFSA in January, this report will summarize that information and provide your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.
Based on this, your child’s potential colleges will put together their financial aid award letters for you, which will finally reveal the amount of scholarships, grants, and loans you can expect, and give you an indication of how much money you will be required to pay out of pocket. But, what if the federal financial aid doesn’t cover all the expenses, and your family just doesn’t have enough money to pay for the rest – is there anything else you can do? Here are a few suggestions:
• Contact the Financial Aid Office: If there is a school that particularly appeals to your student, you can contact the financial aid office and ask if there are any other options for receiving more financial aid. The school may have additional funds for low-income students or may be able to point you in the direction of other scholarships. It could also help to let the school know that you will be interested in finding part-time work in addition to the federal work-study program.
• Explain Any Unusual Circumstances: Sometimes the FAFSA doesn’t give a real picture of your family’s financial situation. If there are exceptional medical bills, or a sudden drop in income, put together a short letter that documents your specific situation, and ask the college if you can appeal the financial aid award.
• Keep Looking for Scholarships: Be on the lookout for all late deadline scholarships. This money does not have to be repaid if your child stays in school and meets any scholarship requirements for grades. Scholarships can make a big difference in your child’s ability to pay for textbooks, lab fees, and other miscellaneous expenses. Parents can also ask their employers if any funds are available to help with college expenses such as computers.
• Consider Private Student Loans: While there are some differences between federal and private student loans, this could be the final piece in your financial aid puzzle. Many private lenders, such as Discover Student Loans, offer competitive interest rates and other incentives that can help reach your college education goal. They may also offer other benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for automatic payments, and may even provide an incentive for good grades.
The SAR and the financial aid award letter are definitely good indicators of how much financial aid you will receive, but they don’t have to be the last word on the subject. If you feel the amount just isn’t enough, take steps to find additional aid, and you could still be attending college in the fall.