FEDERAL FINANCIAL AID APPLICATION (FAFSA)
The (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), or FAFSA, is the first step in the financial aid process. Use it to apply for federal student financial aid, such as the Pell Grant, student loans, and college work-study. In addition, most states and schools use FAFSA information to award their financial aid. Get started on your application today at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm
Thinking about attending an out of state college but worried about paying non-resident tuition??? It's time you learn about WUE! California residents are eligible for consideration for reduced tuition rate offered at more than 150 participating WUE institutions. To be considered for the WUE rate (150% of resident tuition), apply directly to the WUE institution(s) of your choice. For more information, check out these Frequently Asked Questions.
In addition, you may wish to use these websites to create an account and search for scholarships:
SCHOLARSHIP SEARCH TIPS
1. Check Your Prospective Schools
Go to their website or call the financial aid office. If you meet the qualifications, find out how to apply. Don't assume that by applying for admission, you're applying for scholarships. It's often a separate process. Be aware that scholarship deadlines can be different from those set for the college admission application. Raising your GPA and test scores in high school will help increase your chances of earning merit aid.
2. Try Online
When searching online, it is recommend that you be as specific as possible. Simply typing in "scholarships" will yield thousands upon thousands of results. Use qualifiers such as the names of schools and programs of study to help narrow the field.
A word of caution: You should never pay money to investigate scholarships. Scholarship providers don't offer their awards to students who pay to find them; they offer them to all students.
Deadlines vary by scholarship. Some are the summer before your senior year, others in the fall or as late as spring. To stay organized and keep track of due dates, we recommend keeping a calendar, and making your earliest deadline the deadline for all of your applications. Finally (and this cannot be stressed enough), do not miss deadlines. You'll have no recourse if your application arrives late, and you will have zero chance of receiving that award.
A final word on scholarships
You may review a hundred scholarships before you find one that applies to you. Be patient and continue your search. Eventually you'll uncover a good match!
- Sit down and have a frank family discussion about what your family can afford for college expenses per year. Make an agreement that AFTER the financial aid packages and scholarships are awarded, your student may only attend a college that falls within the family budget.
- One of the most critical steps in the Financial Aid process is selecting the right college list. Parents and students should look for the following:
- For students with high financial need – look for colleges that will meet 100% of stated need. For a list of colleges identifying themselves as meeting 100% of financial need visit http://www.collegegreenlight.com/blog/colleges-that-meet-100-of-student-financial-need/.
- For students with strong grades and test scores – apply to schools that reward for merit. The following NY Times article lists 668 colleges and the percent of students receiving merit aid: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/07/08/education/edlife/8edlife_chart.html
- Complete or ESTIMATE your taxes EARLY because all financial aid forms are based on your tax returns.
- The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid required by most public and private universities) is due as early as February 1st and as late as March 2nd but earlier is better. You may start applying in October at www.FAFSA.gov or calculate what your estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is now by going to FAFSA site, finding the section titled “Thinking About College?” and clicking on FAFSA4caster.
- If you are planning to attend a college in California you may be eligible for the Cal Grant. For more information about Cal Grants, the Middle Class Scholarship and financial aid please visit the On-line version of Fund Your Future at http://www.csac.ca.gov/pubs/forms/grnt_frm/fund_your_future_workbook_english.pdf
- The CSS Profile, another financial aid form that is used by some private schools, can be due as early as November 15th and as late as March 2nd but varies by school. The CSS PROFILE opens on October 1, 2014 and can be found at https://profileonline.collegeboard.com/prf/index.jsp
- NEVER miss a priority application date. These earlier application dates will put you into a pool that will automatically consider you for merit scholarships. If you are going to apply for FREE MONEY make sure you are at front of the line. Apply ASAP!
List of Important Questions to Ask Colleges Before Applying for Financial Aid
- Does your institution guarantee to meet 100% of financial need, and if not, what percentage of need does your school meet for the average student?
- Does your institution have a standard “unmet need” formula for students who apply for financial aid?
- Does your institution have a maximum ceiling on the financial aid a student can qualify for?
- If my financial need remains the same for the next 4 years, will my student receive the same financial aid package in years 2, 3 and 4 at your institution?
- If my family’s financial need increases in year 2 at your college, will your financial aid package be adjusted accordingly, or will it remain the same?
- If my student doesn’t apply for financial aid in his/her freshman year of college, can he/she apply for aid in future years?
- Is there a “cut-off” date for guaranteeing that a student will receive financial aid?
- Financial aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis. At some institutions full financial aid will be reduced for students applying after a certain guarantee date even if the final deadline hasn’t passed.
- Some colleges will start removing grants (free money) first if your student receives outside scholarships, while others will start by removing loans. It makes a big difference.