The important thing about finding financial aid is to START EARLY! The Hussey Library and the school library have several books on financial aid that are excellent resources. You should also network with friends and trusted adults and check with organizations. Anything you can belong to or work for is a possible source (churches, employers, fraternal organizations, scouts, businesses etc.). You may also search the web for helpful sites such as www.fastweb.com. A general rule of thumb for using online scholarship searches is that you should not have to pay or provide your credit card information to receive updates about potential scholarships that fit you.
Senior students and parents should attend a Financial Aid night, which are typically held in mid-January. This meeting covers the various types of aid and how to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Do not wait for college acceptance letters before filing for aid. The earlier you file, the better.
One of the questions asked most frequently by parents who are looking at the impending burden of college costs is, “How do I find out about financial aid?” There are basically three kinds of financial aid. Gift Aid (Grants and Scholarships), Student Employment (Work-Study and part-time jobs) and Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized). Aid that is awarded in any combination of these three based on financial need is called need based. Aid that is awarded on service, grades, membership, talents or special activities is called merit based.
The common form for need based aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Families must file this form to be considered for most sources of financial aid. It is especially used by college financial aid offices, the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana and the Federal PELL Grant Program. If you are in doubt as to whether or not to fill out the FAFSA - do! Even if you think you may not qualify for need based aid, having a record on file with the financial aid office may put you in touch with other sources of aid, including scholarships, loans and work study programs. In addition, should your family’s financial situation change dramatically while a student is in college, having a completed FAFSA on file at your college or university can help the financial aid office determine if any additional financial assistance is available.
The FAFSA is completed online at www.fafsa.ed.gov/ and is only sent to the colleges you wish to receive it. Some colleges require the College Scholarship Service’s “CSS Profile” as well. The CSS Profile may be obtained by contacting individual schools’ financial aid offices. Some colleges may also have their own financial aid applications that must be completed in addition to the FAFSA. The FAFSA may not be completed before January 1st, and it is strongly recommended that you check deadlines for your schools and your state; Indiana’s deadline is typically March 10. The FAFSA financial aid process can take anywhere from a few weeks to two months, depending on when you apply; the sooner you apply, the better. After your FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail. Review your SAR as soon as you get it. Make sure all information is correct. If any corrections need to be made, make them immediately and send the corrections to the proper address. If you make corrections, you will receive a revised SAR with the corrected information. The SAR also includes your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC – this is the amount your family can be expected to pay for college costs based on the information provided in the FAFSA.
WHAT INFORMATION IS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA?
- Sign up for a FAFSA account and FAFSA pin at www.fafsa.ed.gov/
- Your Social Security Number
- Your driver’s license of state ID
- W-2 Forms and other records of money earned last year
- Student’s and Parents’ Federal and State Income Tax Return from the previous year
- Untaxed income records such as Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, welfare, or veterans benefits records
- Current bank statements
- Current business and investment mortgage information, estimate of current value of home, business and farm records, and records of stocks, bond and other investments
- Records of medical or dental bills paid in the previous year
- Records of elementary and secondary tuitions paid for students other than the one applying for aid