If you want to learn how to get financial aid in college then you’ve come to the right place. Paying for college can be a nerve-racking experience because you will not only have to deal with huge sums of money but you’ll also have to go through a very complex process of making decisions about loans. Even parents can feel confused when they have to deal with the math and with the subtle nuances of covering the high costs of college. There are a lot of misconceptions and myths related to this topic and also, a lot of mistakes that students and parents can make when trying to pay for college. Here are 7 very helpful tips on how to get financial aid in college:
1. Fill out the FAFSA
If you want to learn how to get financial aid in college, one of the most important things you should do is fill out the FAFSA or The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is basically what the federal government and schools use to decide how much money to give or to loan to a college-bound student. Even if you think that you won’t qualify for any money, you should still fill it out because there are very subtle things that change every year and that have an impact on aid eligibility.
2. The Earlier You Send in Your FAFSA, the Better
Experts say that the earlier you send in your FAFSA, the better, so you can potentially get in front of the line for “nabbing a piece of the financial aid pie”. The explanation for this is quite simple: at the start of the financial aid application season, there is more money to give away.
3. Find out if Other Financial Aid Forms Are Required
After filling out the FAFSA, you should try to find out if other financial aid forms are required since a lot of colleges award aid from their own funds (like money from donations or gifts). Pay attention to this step because not all colleges require extra forms, so find out if yours does.
4. Search and Apply for Private Scholarships
Another very helpful thing you could do if you want to get financial aid in college is to search and apply for private scholarships. Even though most of the private scholarships only award a few hundred dollars, that money can help you pay for books or go toward your living expenses, so it’s worth giving it a shot.
5. You Can Negotiate Your Financial Aid Package
Colleges are also businesses, so they are always looking for high-performing students who will be successful and who could possibly become donors later on. Try sending your FAFSA to several colleges, not just the one you want because schools can see if you are sending the form around and this may motivate them to offer competitive grant and scholarship money.
6. Student Loans Should Be a Last Resort
Even though student loans can be easier to obtain than a grant or a scholarship, they should be your last resort, so try to apply for financial aid and only consider student loans when you’ve exhausted all your grant and scholarship options.
7. Federal Student Loans Are Usually Preferable to Private Loans
Federal student loans are usually preferable to private loans because federal loans offer flexible payment terms if you can’t find a job after you graduate or if you are earnign a low income. Private student loans usually don’t do this, so if your contract says that after graduation your payments should be $500, then this is what you are going to pay.
It’s a bit difficult to get financial aid in college but it’s not an impossible thing to achieve if you do some research and if you don’t give up. Do you know any other tips on how to get financial aid in college? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!