Our RSS FeedFollow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook

 

HOME » ROADMAP » Pay for College » Apply for Aid

Apply for Aid

Once your teen has compiled her list of colleges and started working on her applications, it's time for parents to begin the process of applying for financial aid. A universal first step is filling out FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Your answers to the questions on FAFSA determine your eligibility for federal aid, which makes up a significant portion of the money that financial aid offices have available to disburse to students. 

1. Complete FAFSA Online

To complete the FAFSA, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and click on the Start Here button. Fill in the required questions and designate up to ten colleges to be sent your FAFSA information. To see what questions you'll be asked, you can view this printed worksheet, but you should definitely plan to complete FAFSA online. 

If you are applying for aid for the 2019-20 school year, FAFSA will ask you for your earnings from 2017. You can either use your tax forms to input the data yourself, or use the Data Retrieval Tool. You link your electronic tax return to FAFSA and appropriate fields are automatically populated using your tax return data. Click here to learn more and be taken to the Data Retrieval Tool.

After you've completed and submitted FAFSA electronically, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) within a few days that summarizes your information.  Check it for accuracy and correct any errors.

2. Complete College-Specific Forms

Colleges are required to use FAFSA to dispense federal financial aid. Schools that also dispense state and institutional aid may require you to complete other forms as well to determine how to distribute those funds. Find out which forms each college requires on its Financial Aid web page—or call the financial aid office to find out. Next, be sure to check the priority deadline for each college. Getting your application in by this date improves your chances of being awarded aid. Even better, try to get your application in well before the priority deadline; some money is disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you get your forms in, the more likely you are to get some.

3. Compare Aid Offers

At around the time your child receives his acceptance letter, he will also receive an award letter detailing every component of his financial aid package. Be aware that you can accept or decline any part of the offer, so you might choose to accept grants but decline loans. Once you’ve received all award letters, examine them carefully and compare what you’d pay at each college, including the terms of loans offered.  It might also be worth calling the financial aid office to ask what the likelihood is that your award for the years following freshman year will be comparable to the first year award. Finally, if your financial circumstances have deteriorated since you completed the FAFSA, you can ask the financial aid office to reconsider your award and you might get more aid. 

4. Send in Acceptance Forms

Don’t forget to send in your acceptance form to the financial aid office. You also need to notify the school of any outside scholarships your child has received, including any he gets after you’ve received the award letter. After that, you’re done—until next year.

 

Share & Print

  • Print
  • Email