"Thank you sir, may I have another"…Paying for college….Everyone should complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid
By Brian McGeough - October 2015
When it comes to paying for college, John Blutarsky would probably say - "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily". But a better approach would be to have a good understanding of what student aid may be available to you as your child embarks on their college education.
For all the parents that have high school seniors, if you are like me, you are pushing your student to get those college applications done. We all know the kids have a lot going on….school work, extra-curricular activities, Netflix, social life, senioritis, X-Box. You name it, the kids have a reason to not be working on their applications. But, the applications will get done (most likely very close to the deadline), and then the waiting begins.
Once the applications are done and the arguing with your student subsides (at least until it is time to decide what college they will attend), it will be a good time to start to think about financial aid availability. The first step is to visit www.fafsa.gov to start the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bottom line is that you should submit the FAFSA. There are a few mis-perceptions about qualifying for federal student financial aid that should be addressed:
- Parents make too much money to qualify . The reality is that there is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. There are many factors taken in to account. Family size, age of parents, students attending college, are just some of the factors considered. Income is not the only factor. Your eligibility is determined by a mathematical formula.
- Only students with good grades get financial aid . The reality is that most federal student aid programs do not take a student's grades in to consideration. Colleges do award scholarships based on academic performance (merit scholarships), but this is different from federal student aid.
- The form is too hard to fill out . The reality is that there is a lot of information required to fill out the form, but there is a lot of resources available to guide you through the process. The link to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be found at www.fafsa.gov . This site provides the application as well as resources to help with the process.
For the 2016 - 2017 school, the FAFSA is available starting January 1, 2016 and should be completed as soon as possible to be considered for the maximum amount of federal student aid programs. By completing this form you are also automatically applying for funds from your state and possibly from your school as well. In fact, many schools require the FAFSA in order to be considered for their scholarships (including academic) as well.
The following link has some very useful information regarding student financial aid: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa#why-fafsa
Trivia question: What career did John Blutarsky eventually have after college? Email response to firstname.lastname@example.org . First correct answer gets a Dunkin Donuts gift card, which is right near our office and therefore my new favorite restaurant!