Life 101: Beyond High School by Joanne Barnard
Most individuals pursuing post-secondary education receive some sort of financial aid. Financial aid is comprised of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. Last month, high school seniors were advised to focus on applying for scholarships. Use January to focus on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Students vying for financial aid fill out the FAFSA using information from tax returns and other financial documents. The application is submitted to the U. S. Department of Education which
in turn generates a report. The report is sent to the schools of your choosing and the schools use this report to construct a financial aid package.
The process starts at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can request and fill out a hard copy, complete the PDF file on the FAFSA website, or apply on-line. The first two options require you to mail in the document.
Applying online expedites the process and makes annual updates easier. Filing online requires a FSA ID. Your FSA ID gives you access to your application for corrections, updates, and signing the form electronically. Even if you chose one of the mail-in options you can still get a FSA ID to track your application and access other websites (such as FAFSA on the Web, National Student Loan Data System website, Federal Direct Consolidation Loans website and Federal Student Aid´s Student Loan website). Apply for a FSA ID at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.
How long it will take to fill out the FAFSA depends on your situation. Most of you are dependents of your parents so you will need their personal and financial information. The FAFSA site has the list of documents needed (www.fafsa.ed.gov/help/before003.htm).
After you have submitted the application, you and the schools you have chosen will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). For online applications this takes a few days, whereas a paper application will take 2 to 3 weeks to process. On this SAR will be your EFC or Expected Family Contribution. Financial aid offices and some scholarship committees use your EFC to create the financial aid award. The amount of aid given is based on the cost of attending school minus the EFC.
For the 2018-19 school year you could submit the FAFSA as early as October 1, 2017, and use your 2016 tax return information.
Check with individual schools and scholarship sponsors for their deadlines. Some schools have moved up their deadline as a result of the earlier submission date. The University of Colorado for example has a FAFSA priority date of February 15, 2018. For Colorado State University it is March 1, 2018. Although funding may still be available after these dates, most school's federal aid is awarded on a first come first served basis.
Award letters from colleges will arrive from mid-February up to mid-April and most colleges expect a commitment by May 1.
For more information visit fafsa.ed.gov or talk to Denise Rominger (Lyons High Counselor)
You can gain insight into how your EFC is calculated by searching the web 2018-19-efc-formula.pdf.
Next Life 101: February 1: Follow-Up, the Future, and Financial Aid
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