Apply Early for Financial Aid

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides federal student aid, which includes grants, loans, and work-study.  Each year millions of students wait until the last minute to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Apply early! If there are any problems with your paper work you will have lead time to speak with a financial aid counselor at your school during the “non peak” processing time of the year.

I have learned it is best to connect with your financial aid counselor
face to face (if possible).   Be proactive by keeping a calendar of the
date and time you filed your FAFSA electronically.  If you do not hear back within the suggested time frame, contact the number on your application to identify any problems with the submission.

Student loans should only be used when needed and always after you have applied for scholarships, grants, student employment, and work study.  Student loan debt can pile up fast.  Many states now offer tuition waivers or tuition discounts to youth in foster care headed to college.  Check with your state department of education to assist you.  Education and Training Vouchers are also offered through your state independent living coordinator.

The Federal Pell Grant is the most common form of federal financial aid in which students do not have to repay, but it is not the only option. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is a Federal fund given to students with very high need (priority is given to Federal Pell Grant recipients). Funding depends on availability at each college or university.  Annual Award Amounts vary from $100 to $4,000.

No one source is going to cover  tuition and expenses. The key to graduating debt-free requires drawing on all available resources – never turn down an opportunity for free money just because it doesn’t seem like “enough.”