Tips for Students and Families
The majority of financial aid package deals offer merit aid (financial aid that is based on grades, tests scores, athletic ability, talents or other criteria, not income or assets). Strong grades and test scores helps every financial aid package deal.
There are scholarships (money for college that you don’t have to repay; awarded based on grades, test scores, major, heritage or other criteria, and sometimes, financial need) even for middle school students. Whether you need financial aid or not; scholarships are a great way to stand out in your award section of your college application. Click here for scholarship resources.
Is a great way for extended family and you to invest your funds with interest accounts for free through the state government. The funds aren’t protected, but it is better investment for extended family members to purchase versus gift card for shoes or games.
Students may be eligible for more money for a higher cost college than they would be for a lower cost college especially if the campus has a large endowment and the campus is looking for diversity of students based on geography, ethnicity, gender or for specific majors.
Utilize all the resources from Cal Grants, FAFSA, WebGrants, CSS Profile and organizations that offer scholarships.
Meeting all deadlines for financial aid forms are critical. Each campus has different deadlines to completing and submitting forms. If all forms are submitted in January, then students often meet all deadlines for the majority of colleges (some colleges like USC have a scholarship deadline of December 1st)
Reduce stress and prepare all 1040’s, bank statements, business income and value of assets now before the Spring semester of the student’s senior year. Often students do not even know their social security number and rush through this process. Plan ahead, make a plan and apply early in case there are any difficulties in the financial aid process.
Every financial aid award letter will have pluses and minuses. Find the one that is the best financial fit for your family and follow up if the awards, scholarships and grants are renewable every year.
Colleges and the government understand that filing out financial aid forms and tax returns is a difficult process. The government and campuses allow families to use their previous income and tax information from the prior year. However, families still need to file their tax returns early as some campuses will audit families and request their tax forms prior to offering a financial aid package.
Every year you request financial aid. The aid package can change because it is based on the current income and assets of the asking year.
Connect with your College Counselor and/or with the college financial aid officer to answer any questions.
It is not unusual for a student to receive financial aid offers that do not meet their needs. For example, if a family’s EFC is 10,000 and the total cost of attending the campus is $50,000 – a family should receive a financial aid offer of $40,000. It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for campus not to meet these needs. What to do? Apply broadly (public and private, non coastal campuses, campuses with large endowments allocated for financial aid purposes).