Q: What is financial aid?
A: Financial aid is money used to pay for your education. It can be given, lent or paid to you.
Q: How will I know if I am eligible?
A: More people are eligible than you might think. In fact, more than 70 percent of students today receive some form of financial aid.
Q: When do I apply?
A: After January 1 of the student's senior year, you may submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to start the financial aid process. Plan to complete your income taxes as early as possible, as this information is required on the FAFSA. This form is available online at www.fafsa.gov.
Q: How many forms are required to apply for financial aid?
A: Every student must complete the FAFSA. Some colleges also require the PROFILE. Be sure to check with your college choices to see if they require the PROFILE.
Q: What is the process once I've applied for aid?
A: The FAFSA is used to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is the amount that your family will be expected to contribute to your first year of college. Once you've chosen a college, that institution's financial aid officers (FAOs) will put together a package of grants, scholarships and/or loans that will be applied to the difference between the cost of attending and your EFC.
Q: What if the package isn't enough?
A: There may be some room for negotiation, particularly if your family's financial situation has changed since you submitted the FAFSA. Be sure to discuss alternative funding sources with your college FAO.
Q: How much does it really cost to go to college?
A: You should check with the school that you are planning on attending and ask about any extra costs such as parking or health insurance.
Q: How often do I need to apply for financial aid?
A: You will need to complete the FAFSA and other forms every year that you are in school. Many scholarships and grants may be granted only for your freshman year, so be aware of this and try to plan accordingly. Reapplying will typically help families if your siblings start college while you are still in school. Changes in federal law may have an impact on the financial aid you receive.