Maximizing Your Eligibility for Student Aid
February 16, 2015 governmentgrants.info Staff
Between 2001 and 2012, the cost of higher education at a public school rose 40 percent, and prices at private nonprofit institutions rose 28 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2013). With costs increasing at such a fast pace, it helps to know that the government and private institutions alike are making funds for school available through scholarships, grants, and loans. Take time to maximize your eligibility for student aid by keeping your vital documents organized when completing forms and be mindful of critical deadlines. Regardless of your financial situation, you should fill out a FAFSA as soon as possible. It’s not necessary to have filed taxes with the IRS beforehand.
Student aid awards are often merit-based, meaning your grades and test scores can determine your eligibility. If your GPA falls below 2.5, you will be disqualified from receiving many forms of aid including loans and grants. Review and correct any mistakes before and after submitting your FAFSA to ensure the timely processing of your student aid award. It’s possible to correct the information you’ve entered on the FAFSA after it’s submitted.
If you are unemployed, you may file as a dislocated worker on the FAFSA. As a dislocated worker, your assets are reported differently, thus lowering your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the determining number that factors into your student aid award. The lower your EFC is, the higher the award you can expect to receive. Being unemployed is not required to receiving student aid. Your EFC takes into account any expenses you have, such as child support payments, and calculates your unmet financial needs with regards to educational goals.
Be acquainted with the clerks in your school’s financial aid office. The clerks are often students themselves and are more than happy to assist you with questions and completing forms. Attend financial aid workshops to familiarize yourself with the process. There is a lot of useful information that can help maximize your award and help you achieve your goals. Applying for student aid must be done each school year. Your financial picture and the types of aid available may have changed from the previous year.
Here are some important websites that can help you navigate the process. Add them to your bookmarks for easy reference while planning your education: studentaid.ed.gov, calgrants.gov,csac.ca.gov (for state grants, you must maintain a verified GPA of 2.5), and fastweb.com. FastWeb alone contains a wealth of information on scholarships and includes detailed lists of the criteria and deadlines for each.