The cost of a college education continues to rise, making it more important than ever for parents to understand the process of applying for financial aid. Here are a few guidelines:
- Compare Cost and Value: If a school accepts federal financial aid packages (some do not), then those institutions are required by the government to provide data regarding the cost of attendance before and after aid is applied. You can use College Scorecard to compare costs and the value of attending various schools. Check out the FAFSA4caster to estimate the amount of federal aid for which you might qualify.
- Complete the FAFSA: To complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you and your student will each need your own FSA IDs. This process takes about ten minutes per person. If this is your first time applying for an FSA ID, you can complete the FAFSA as soon as you’re finished. If this is not the first time, the verification process might take one to three days. Once you’re verified, go to fafsa.gov and complete the form.
- Look for the SAR and Search for Scholarships: About three days after you complete the FAFSA, you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes the information supplied on the FAFSA application and also indicates your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). In addition, you can optimize your scholarship search using the U.S. Dept of Labor’s free scholarship search tool, which could be useful in determining your final school selection.
One of life’s most important decisions is selecting the right college. Use these suggestions to make the best choice for you and your student.