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Posts Tagged FAFSA

The Waiting Game

lysa-85You’ve completed all of your applications; sent them all in months ago, read and re-read all of your essays and completed your SAT and/or ACT testing. You’ve gotten teachers to write numerous letters of recommendation for you, and you’ve tried your hardest to avoid the “senior slump” of spring semester and keep your grades afloat. You’ve already survived FAFSA, and are pretty sure where you want to go to college after visiting all of your choices. The only thing left now is THE WAITING GAME, of anxiety, anticipation, fear, and excitement. You’ve completed all of the above items to receive one single letter, of  hopefully above all… an ACCEPTANCE!

I know how you feel. I could hardly wait to receive my application responses back. I checked the mail almost every day after school in hope maybe one letter would arrive earlier; before the decision date. I checked my email 10 times a day and for months made sure everything had been received by each school due to paranoia. But, you know what, you’ve already worked so hard, and you’re already ahead of so many others by just having applied to college! You are going to be the first or one of the first people in your family to go to college! Now, if you only knew which one, right?

Now is a good time  to relax and consider how you are going to celebrate your first acceptance letter. I remember when I received mine. I’ll probably never forget that day. The first school I was accepted into was Wesleyan, followed by Emory a day later. The letters came early and I couldn’t believe it, when I got home and they were waiting for me on my bed. I opened them and was overjoyed that I had been accepted. I knew at that moment, I was definitely going to college – one of the best feelings in the world! I went out to dinner that night at my favorite restaurant and celebrated being accepted into college. However, you will have to decide for yourself how you’re going to celebrate. But, when you get that first letter, you’ll know that YOU’VE MADE IT , that ALL OF THAT HARD WORK HAS PAID OFF, and YOU ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO YOUR FUTURE!  Best of luck to all of you. My best advice is to celebrate your acceptances and not dwell in that unfortunate letter of rejection that may also reach your mailbox, because I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Don’t be discouraged, and realize that your letter of ACCEPTANCE is on its way!

“Free” Education- But You’ll have some ‘Splainin’ to do!

khadijah-85Can YOU afford a $200,000 education? You, whose parents are on TANF, who helps your parents by working a full-time job, in addition to school? You should probably go to your state school, it only costs $20,000, 1/10 the price of a fancy-smhancy private school, like Harvard, Williams, Stanford.  Or better yet, community college. What are you thinking applying to that private school?

Except, one thing-  I’m getting a $200,000 education.  For free.

Wait. What? Free? Gratis? My parents have a Trust Fund, that’s probably it.

Actually, nope.

In a remarkable twist of fate, for the first time in my life- being POOR was a good thing. You know why? Some colleges are beginning to recognize that intelligence doesn’t correlate with income and many are putting their money where their mouths are.

WHEW!

But don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. Get ready for weeks of explaining your financial situation to colleges. The FAFSA was created for the traditional college student  – traditional age, two parents and 2.5 kids, no extended family issues, etc. – not exactly room to put extenuating circumstances like ours. And a lot of times, your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) will be higher than your family can actually afford. That’s why you need to get in touch with your financial aid officer early, at whatever schools you are thinking of going to. Tell them your situation. Be COMPLETELY honest. I told them my mom had no income, and they kept asking for tax forms. It was extremely frustrating. They asked for my father’s information, and it took them a while to finally understand that I had NO contact with my father and so I could not provide that information. But keep it up, be persistent with financial aid, and it will pay off, literally!

It is important to understand the difference between price and cost. The price is what colleges charge absent any financial aid – that’s that big number on the website. For most private colleges, that number is daunting. But the other important number is cost – what it will cost you once your financial aid is factored in. Because many schools are heavily endowed, they can make the cost of attending an elite private school less than a less expensive public school. Seriously, (for the juniors and younger out there) apply to the private schools. They can often give better financial packages than your state school. UCLA, for example, is more expensive for me than Harvard! UCLA, keep in mind, costs ~$80,000 while Harvard costs 200,000+. Yet Harvard is cheaper for me because they can afford to give financial aid. Look for the term “need-blind.” That term means they will admit you regardless of your ability to pay. In fact, the admissions office does not consider your need at all in making the admission decision. The other term to look for is “full need.” That means that the school will meet your full financial need – but that’s a bit dicey because your need is determined by a pretty inflexible standard that does not respond well to non-traditional families. And how they meet that need can vary greatly with combinations of grants, loans and work-study. A number of schools state they offer both need-blind admissions and full-need for U.S. students. There is room for some professional judgment and flexibility so be sure to give your financial aid office all the information about you and your family.

Now, because of the economic recession, schools are a bit, shall we say, tighter with their wallets. But don’t lose hope! Schools know the value of highly qualified students from different backgrounds, and the right school for you will provide you with a financial package you and your family will be happy with.

And by the way, all this talk about a free education is a bit misleading. I can tell you that you will pay in blood, sweat and tears for every penny of your education!

The Financial Aid Process

angelica-85GET HELP!!! These are the first two words that come to mind when I think of the financial aid process. Completing the FAFSA form can be very difficult without the proper guidance. It is very important to get assistance while completing this form.

My first suggestion is to sit down with your parent or guardians because there are many questions that you won’t be able to answer on your own. There are many questions that can trap you up. If you’re not able to get assistance from your parents, your high school Guidance Counselor would be your next best option.

As a senior in high school I tried to complete the FAFSA form on my own, it took me a while to finish it. To be honest, it took me 4 months to complete it and I was forced to get assistance in order to complete it.

I often hear counselors advise students to fill out the form in January, I feel that this is great advice. Filling out the form as early as possible will increase your chances of getting sufficient aid. Please seek assistance and fill out the form as soon as possible, it is a long process.

Good luck!!!

FAFSA– What a form!

ashley-85As we all know the FAFSA is a very important form, and to be honest the thought of filling it out terrified me. I know it is silly to be intimidated by a form, but I was. This was my first true step to independence and I was so afraid to fill it out. As I waited to get my taxes back the fear of the FAFSA built up inside of me. Finally the day came when I was going to fill it out. I had no idea what I was going to do. Like always I was a special case. The FAFSA was to be filled out in all my information since I was a warden of the state. And like usual this proved to be rather difficult. But luckily I had wonderful help. My aunt was a tax pro so she helped when she could and then I had a wonderful woman, an admissions counselor at another school to which I had applied to, basically on call if I needed help. So I sat down at my computer, taxes in hand and I went to work on this really long form. There was some tough parts to it but I asked about them and got it all figured out. I finished my FAFSA and all had gone well. No sweat.

Now it is time for me to tackle the big bad FAFSA again and I think back to how scared I was. Yes, parts of it were a little confusing and I am sure I will need help again this year, but it is just a silly little form no matter how important it may be.

I want you all to remember this. And please ask for help, that is what admissions counselors are for! There are many people out there who are willing to help you just have to ask! Good Luck!

Unlike this post, do not be super late with your FAFSA form

duylam-85I think the post title sums it all up, hah.

I am tempted to make a Vlog, like my fellow scholar, and perhaps I will ride his coat tails later on.

But that is the biggest tip I can tell you. You should definitely check out your schools’ deadlines just to make sure you’re on point. You can find out most dates on the FAFSA website, but you may have to go to your school’s website.

I just recently filled out my FAFSA. Not as daunting as it seems anymore. So don’t stress your first time around. Or maybe it’s just me. But the FAFSA is much easier now because they’ve added hints and the like, also read thoroughly. I was about to fill out this one section about my mom’s assets and I called Babson just to check if they need that part, and they didn’t. So just be patient with what you’re doing so you can save yourself time and a headache later.

Hah, not much I can say about the FAFSA I think. Government Aid is nice, but it doesn’t cover it all. And don’t think about school as an expense. It is an investment in your future.

Also here is a blog you should definitely check out – Cal Newport’s Study Hacks – just a little light reading for you now that your apps are done.