Financial Aid Timeline and Checklist For Fall, Winter & Summer Spring
"Financial Aid Timeline and Checklist For Fall, Winter & Summer Spring" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 9th January 2012
Education is an investment in you! Whether you’re planning to go to college or get job training, many programs are available to help you cover the costs. Financial aid covers more than tuition, fees and books. It can also help you pay for rent, food, transportation costs and other living expenses. Plus, you don’t have to go to school full time to receive financial aid.
But remember—you should first check out money that you don’t have to repay, usually in the form of grants and scholarships. Grants are money you don’t have to pay back and are usually based on financial need. Scholarships are also free money for college and are usually based on your area of study or merit, such as good grades, special talent or community service. Work-Study or Student Employment Programs let you earn money for college in a job on or off campus.
Loans are borrowed money that you must repay, usually with interest. If you do need to borrow, there are federal loans that offer low interest rates and other benefits.
Look into ways to cut your college costs. Consider starting at a community college, becoming an AmeriCorps volunteer to earn an education award or taking Advanced Placement courses in high school for college credit so you graduate sooner and save on tuition. Your school counselor or career center should be your first stop. Then browse the Web—you’ll find a list of helpful sites on the back cover.
Applying for financial aid is free; simply complete the FAFSA. You should apply for financial aid every year, from your senior year of high school through your senior year in college—and even beyond, if you’re headed to graduate school.
Financial aid timeline and checklist For Fall Semester
- Talk to your high school counselor about your college plans and money needs. Ask about scholarships offered by local organizations and businesses.
- Browse the Web for college planning tips. Check out all the ways to pay for college, starting at www.going2college.org or www.mappingyourfuture.org and www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov.
- Look into AmeriCorps at www.americorps.gov to learn how to earn money for college in return for volunteer service.
- Sign up to take the SAT or ACT, if you haven’t already.
- Make sure you have a Social Security number. You need one to apply for most financial aid. If you don’t have one, go to www.ssa.gov or call 800.772.1213 (TTY 800.325.0778).
- Check out colleges on the Web, starting with http://collegenavigator.ed.gov and www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov/choosing. Also, meet with college representatives who visit your school or community.
- Keep a calendar of important deadlines for college admission and financial aid.
- Start filling out forms and writing essays for college and scholarship applications.
- Start applying for private scholarships. Some may have very early deadlines.
- Ask your teachers, counselors, employers, friends and family for letters of recommendation.
- Make sure you have an e-mail address that’s appropriate for corresponding with colleges, lenders and employers.
- Apply for a federal PIN at www.pin.ed.gov so you can e-sign the FAFSA for faster processing.
- Visit your top college choices or take a virtual tour online.
- Keep up your grades.
- Complete the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet, which you’ll find at www.fafsa.ed.gov or your school.
- Check the Web for private scholarships, starting at www.fastweb.com, www.collegenet.com/mach25, www.scholarshiphelp.org, and www.collegeboard.com/pay.
- Request any additional financial aid applications your college or financial aid program may require.
Financial Aid Timeline and Checklist For Winter Semester
- Attend your school’s financial aid workshop.
- Complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov as soon as possible, starting January 1. Use estimates if you or your parents haven’t completed a federal tax return. Provide the required e-signatures and an e-mail address for faster processing. Rather than miss a deadline, use estimates if your parents (or you) haven’t completed a federal tax return. You can make corrections later.
- Attend a College Goal Sunday workshop in January or February for free help completing the FAFSA and other forms. Visit www.collegegoalsundayusa.org for dates and locations.
- Be sure to meet all financial aid deadlines. Some may be early in the year. Check with each college you’re considering.
- Review your Student Aid Report (SAR), which you’ll receive after submitting your FAFSA, and make any corrections.
- Keep a copy of everything you submit.
Financial Aid Timeline and Checklist For Summer Spring
- Review your Student Aid Report and make any needed corrections.
- Be sure you or your parents complete your tax returns so you can update your Student Aid Report, if necessary.
- Watch for college acceptance letters and financial aid offers
- Evaluate all financial aid offers carefully. Ask questions!
- Consider grants, work-study and other aid you don’t have to repay before accepting a student loan. Accepting a loan means accepting the responsibility of repaying it.
- Decide on a college and send in all forms or deposits by the deadline (May 1 for most colleges).
- Let your college know the financial aid awards you’re accepting and the ones you’re declining.
- Look for a summer job, or consider summer school or an internship.
- Arrange for housing.
Your first step to getting money for college is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Some financial aid offered by your state or college may require you to submit additional information or applications. Apply early and meet deadlines because financial aid funds are often limited. Also explore private scholarships, tax credits and other options— if your college offers a plan that will let you spread your payments over the school year. Your school counselor or career center is a good place to start. Also, browse the Web, starting with the sites listed on the back cover.
You should know:
Financial aid can cover more than tuition and books. The cost of paying rent, eating and getting from one place to another adds up. Luckily, most state and federal grants and scholarships, as well as federal loans, take that into account.
College isn’t just for the wealthy. You don’t have to attend full time to receive financial aid. You can use your federal Pell Grant and other aid if you only go to college half time. Even if you take one or two classes, you may still be able to use your Pell Grant.
Money is set aside for foster youth. If you are or were in foster care, you may be eligible for thousands of dollars a year for college or job training on top of any other financial aid you receive. See page 5.
You don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to receive financial aid—and your parents don’t need to be citizens either. The majority of U.S. permanent residents and other eligible noncitizens qualify for most federal and state aid. If you’re an undocumented or under- documented student, you aren’t eligible for state or federal aid, but in some states you may qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges.
Completing the FAFSA is not as difficult as it may first appear. The form is available in English and Spanish, and has step-by-step instructions; ask your school for help. You can also attend a free college application workshop. For dates and locations, go to www.collegegoalsundayusa.org.
Apply for financial aid early, even before finding out if you’ve been accepted to college. Otherwise, you may miss out on scholarships, grants and other free money for education.