Tips for Students and Families

Start the financial aid conversation NOW

Discuss what the family can afford. Parents it is recommended by finance advisors do NOT dip into your retirement funds or apply to private loans. Remember the key thing is to apply broadly.

Student needs to take the steps to prepare for college

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.

Look For Scholarships Now

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.

Apply Broadly to Colleges

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.

Apply for ALL types of Financial Aid

Utilize all the resources from Cal Grants, FAFSA, WebGrants, CSS Profile and organizations that offer scholarships.

Meet deadlines

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)

Get your paper work in order

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.

Compare financial aid offers

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.

Is it okay to estimate financial aid forms?

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.

How often do I have to apply for financial aid?

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.

If you are stuck – ask!

Connect with your College Counselor and/or with the college financial aid officer to answer any questions.

Does your student/parent loan make good financial sense ?

Will your career aspirations produce enough earnings to pay back your loans and other living expenses? The average loan amount for students are growing higher and higher every year. Check the government website to see if your career is a high demanding job that will provide you the resources you need to have a happy and financial stable life after college.

What if the financial aid offer does not meet your financial needs?

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).



St. Ignatius College Preparatory

Courage to Lead; Passion to Serve

2001 37th Avenue San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 731-7500
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