Thursday, January 7, 2010

Seniors, Time to Apply for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA)

Provided by: Lauren Kahn, M.A. Lone Star Ed Consulting 512-294-6608

Seniors, besides merit scholarship options, there is also another way for you to finance your college dreams. Apply for federal financial aid. As FinAid.com says, "Few students can afford to pay for college without some form of education financing." It is time for the U.S. government to show you the money! If your parents make less than $150K in combined income and you are a U.S. citizen, I would advise you to at least submit your application for federal aid. Financial Aid comes in all sorts of packages: including grants, loans, and work study options. If you need information on the types of financial aid available, visit finaid.com.



If you plan to attend a private four year school, the retail cost of your first year of college could be as high as 60K. This estimated cost includes the total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel and incidental expenses. The average cost of a private four year school for the 2008-2009 year was approximately $36,000.00 (collegeboard.com). At a public four year university, the average cost for a first year student was approximately $16,000.00, with only $6,600.00 for tuition and fees. The room and board cost for students is estimated at $8K a year. However, this cost will greatly vary based on dorm options and food plans. (It is my recommendation that most first year students live on campus in university housing, unless there is limited housing on campus and there are safe housing alternatives nearby campus.)

This is a reminder for the parents of college-bound seniors to submit their online FAFSA in the next few days. Parents need to keep in mind financial aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis from “pools” of money; waiting to submit the FAFSA may be harmful to your son or daughter’s potential for receiving significant need-based financial aid awards.
  

To complete the online FAFSA:  Click below. 
1. Go to FAFSA

2. Select the “2010-2011 FAFSA” in the “Select” box on the page lower right,

3. Click on “Next” in the blue arrow button,

4. Read the information about internet browsers and if your computer meets the system and browser requirements, click on “Next” in the blue arrow button (if not, click on the “CUSTOMER SERVICE” button to seek help).

5. To proceed with completing the FAFSA, enter your son/daughter’s personal information and create a password. Be sure to write down your password on paper for safekeeping.

6. Click on “Next” in the blue arrow button,

7. Complete the FAFSA application by entering your family’s financial information and submitting online. The online FAFSA should be signed electronically by both student and one parent by entering your FAFSA Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).

8. Before submitting the online FAFSA, print a copy of your summary information.

One-to-three days after the online FAFSA is submitted, you should receive a Student Aid Report (called the “SAR” or “E-SAR”) via e-mail from FederalStudentAidFAFSA@cpsemail.ed.gov. Be sure to check your bulk or junk mail because the SAR may be delivered to these folders. The SAR is a summary of the information entered into the FAFSA. You should review your son/daughter’s SAR to make sure all the information listed is correct.

Also, the SAR will show your son/daughter’s calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based upon the financial information entered. The EFC is the amount of money your family is expected to pay for college expenses. The best possible EFC is zero, meaning your family is expected to pay $0 for college tuition, housing, etc. The EFC is an indication of how much financial aid your son/daughter is ELIGIBLE to receive; it does NOT mean they will definitely receive large amounts of need-based financial aid. The calculated EFC will be used by federal and state governments and the colleges listed on your son/daughter’s FAFSA to determine the amount of need-based financial aid they are eligible to receive (NOT how much he/she WILL receive).

The EFC is shown on top of the first page (on the example SAR, the EFC is 3256. This means the family is expected to pay $3,256 toward college expenses). If you have trouble with technical aspects of the online FAFSA (such as why it’s not working on your computer – not if you’re having trouble understanding the questions on the form or what answers to give), you can send an e-mail to get your questions answered at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/contact.htm or chat online live with a FAFSA assistant (to chat live online, go to contact and click on small underlined blue letters, “Live Help” in the page center).

If you don’t receive your son/daughter’s electronic SAR within 1-to-2 weeks of submitting the FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) between 8 a.m. and midnight (Eastern Time), seven days a week. Best of luck with submitting your FAFSA!

FREE Tip from Lone Star Ed Consulting:

If the school that you are applying for has a budget for increasing merit aid awards, they'll give you more if they want you and think you're seriously considering accepting an offer from another school. Leverage your financial aid package offers. If you applied and were accepted early decision, you cannot do this, because you have committed to attending that particular university.


The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

1 comment:

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Thank you for your comment. Your input is greatly appreciated. - College News from Texas - Lauren Kahn, M.A.

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