Paying for College and Applying for Financial Aid
Paying for college can be a challenge, but financial aid is available which makes going to college affordable for most students.
In order to get financial aid, you must apply for it, and applying begins with the FAFSA—the federal government’s financial aid application.
There’s no cost to apply for aid and filling out a FAFSA does not obligate you to take any other step. If you’re thinking about going to college – and there are a lot of good reasons to go – get the FAFSA filled out. Do it now.
If you need help with the FAFSA, have questions about aid in general or about any other aspect of going to college, let us know. We are here to help you…that’s our mission.
The MOESC College Access Staff
The Bare Minimum
- Applicants for aid (and one parent of a dependent applicant) must have an FSA I.D.
- Obtain FSA I.D.s and submit the FAFSA at studentaid.gov
Understanding College Costs and Obtaining Financial Aid
Students are charged for:
- Tuition (the cost to attend class)
- Fees (for laboratories, student activities, parking, technology, etc.)
- Books & Supplies
- Room & Board (on campus housing and food costs while attending an out-of-town college)
- Transportation (to get to and from home and college)
- A student attending a state university/college who is not a resident of that state may be assessed a surcharge. No such charge is made at private colleges.
The total cost to attend college is referred to as the cost of attendance or the student budget.
While it is understood that paying for college can be a significant burden, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that college costs are paid.
How can a student with limited resources afford to attend college? Financial aid is the answer. Financial aid is help to pay for college that comes from a source other than the student’s family, and much help is available.
Need for Financial Aid
Most financial aid is based on a student’s demonstrated need, a comparison between the cost of attendance at the student’s college and his/her available financial resources.
Types of Financial Aid
- Gift Aid ─ free help which only rarely must be repaid. Grants and scholarships are both types of gift aid.
- Self-Help Aid ─ help that requires shared responsibility by the student. Student loans and work-study employment are both types of self-help aid.
Some Financial Aid Terms
Points to remember
- Do not assume you are not eligible for aid. Not all aid is need-based. Applying is free!
- Know what specific procedures are required by the colleges you are interested in attending.
- Colleges often assign accepted students a unique e-mail account that the colleges use to send the students important information.
- Keep on top of the process; if you are asked by the financial aid office to submit something, do it. Your eligibility will not be determined until you do.
- If you contact a financial aid office with questions about a form, have the form at hand for reference.
- If you contact a financial aid office, write down the date of the contact, the name of the person you spoke with, and a summary of the conversation.
- Parents are not required to pay for their child’s education, but the parents’ ability to pay is considered when their child’s need is determined.
- Contact your college’s aid office, not friends or relatives, for information about financial aid.
Applying for Financial Aid
- Submitting the FAFSA (the federal government’s financial aid application) is the first and the most important step in qualifying to receive financial aid.
- The FAFSA is submitted on-line at fafsa.gov or StudentAid.gov starting October 1 of the year preceding enrollment. A new FAFSA must be submitted each year.
- The student, and one parent of a dependent student, must each have an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA. IDs consist of a username and password and are meant to ensure confidentiality and security of personal information. Apply for an ID at fsaid.ed.gov or StudentAid.gov.
- Receiving scholarships often require applications apart from the FAFSA.
A Few Points About the FAFSA
What you should do now
- Both the student and one parent (custodial if divorced/separated) should obtain an FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov or StudentAid.gov.
- Submit the FAFSA at fasa.gov or StudentAid.gov beginning October 1.
- Learn what, besides the FAFSA, is required by the college you will attend, and provide it without delay.
- Identify locally available scholarships and apply for them.
- Search for nationally listed scholarships at fastweb.com.
Students whose family income has dropped significantly from what was reported on the FAFSA or who have extraordinary medical expenses can ask to have a re-evaluation of financial need and aid eligibility. Such a request is made by the student to his/her college’s financial aid office and requires thorough documentation.
Helpful Contacts and Resources