After applying to your top five colleges, getting accepted into two or three of them, the next important part of determining your college dream is to apply and compare financial aid. Comparing financial aid choices is determining which college is offering you the most money to attend their school.
Before you are able to compare financial aid, you must first apply for the different programs using the FAFSA.
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is to be completed annually by new and returning college students. The FAFSA determines a students’ eligibility for various grant, scholarships, and loans based on the previous year’s tax information.
The US Department of Education runs the FAFSA and accepts applications beginning January 1 for 18 months. The US Department of Education and any financial aid office encourages that the FAFSA be completed as early as possible. This ensures that the financial aid assistance will be as large as possible.
After the FAFSA is completed, the Student Aid Report (SAR) is generated. The SAR is a summary of the FAFSA and allows the student and their family to proofread the information and allows a method for correcting the information in the FAFSA system.
When comparing the financial aid offers from the different colleges, what students are looking for is the offer that requires the least monetary payback at the end of the college career. If a student only receives student loans as their financial aid from college #1, and 4 grants, and 3 scholarships from college #2. College #2 is the best option because of the no-payback financial aid offer. With college #1, interest and fees can accrue making your college financial aid, the farthest thing from being paid for.
Have you completed for FAFSA application yet? Better get on it, that federal money is dwindling away fast!