Here are 10 dos and don’ts to consider as you apply for financial aid.
1) DO complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. All colleges require students to complete the FAFSA before awarding financial aid. Put simply: no FAFSA, no financial aid.
2) DON’T delay. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1, and families should complete it as soon as possible.
3) DO visit www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/financialaid to research priority FAFSA filing deadlines, some of which are as early as December 1. Many colleges award financial aid on a first-come-first-served basis. Students who miss the priority deadline may be locked out of receiving grants and scholarships.
4) DON’T assume that your family income is too high to qualify for financial aid. The formula for who receives financial aid depends not just on family income but also the family size and the number of students currently in college. You might be surprised by what you qualify for, and there’s no harm in applying.
5) DO file your tax return on time and have a copy of your return available when you complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA is based on information from your 2017 federal income tax return. Financial aid cannot be awarded until your tax return is filed.
6) DON’T feel bad if the whole process is overwhelming. Applying for financial aid is complicated. If you’re frustrated, relax. You’re in good company.
7) DO use the free resources available at www.studentaid.gov.
8) DON’T go it alone. Each of the local high schools has a college adviser, and many colleges provide FAFSA completion assistance.
9) DO reach out to New College Institute (NCI) for help. Are you a student at NCI or exploring your college options? Sammy Redd, NCI’s Coordinator of Student Services, can provide financial aid advising and help you complete the FAFSA free of charge. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
10) DON’T pay for assistance with any part of the financial aid process. Companies that require payment for financial aid advising and FAFSA completion are often scams.