February is the month to focus on the financial end of the college application process. Federal, state and college aid deadlines will vary, with some may be as early as this month. Last month’s government shutdown impacted the calculating of financial aid packages for many students, but especially current applicants and transfer students. Fortunately, sympathetic administrators made sure that the necessary information was sent insuring that students could be admitted in a timely manner.
Schools have begun to determine how much aid to award prospective students based on the information found on the FAFSA, other information they might have already received, and it is very much a first-come first-served process. So, it goes without saying that it is in the student's best interest to have completed and submitted all financial aid documents sooner versus later. This priority date can be found on College Board under the college's listing (Paying > How To Apply For Financial Aid > Deadlines), or in the Financial Aid section on the school's website. Every school has it's own priority financial aid deadline that shouldn’t be missed.
The 2019-2020 Free Application For Student Aid, a.k.a. FAFSA, has been available online since October 1, 2018. The FAFSA can be intimidating, but check here to find the answer to the most common questions, and save time by having all the necessary documents ready before you begin.
All college-bound students needing financial aid to pay their college tuition MUST fill out and submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA now requires approximately 30 minutes to complete and the most common mistakes made tend to be not reading the questions carefully, inputting the wrong SSN, and misspelling names. So make sure to proof everything carefully. and that you have these 7 things on hand when you begin.
Note: There is no income cut off for financial aid. Eligibility is calculated by a mathematical formula - not solely income - and many schools use the FAFSA to award college funded financial packages and scholarships. Everyone should fill out and submit the FAFSA.
• CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® is another application used by many colleges for more detailed financial information. The CSS is utilized by both colleges and scholarship programs to award additional financial aid from areas other than the government. Check here to see if the schools on your college list require the CSS.
The cost is the same as last year's: $25 to send your Profile to a college or scholarship program with additional reports costing $16 per. Students eligible for SAT fee waivers are also qualified to receive CSS Profile waivers for up to eight reports. Students whose family income is below $40,000 will also be eligible for fee waivers.
• Status of applications - Still waiting to hear from some colleges? Applications missing documents could also be the issue and incomplete applications will not be evaluated, delaying a decision. It is the student's responsibility to check if the schools have received all the necessary documents. Colleges will notify you by email if there is something missing or students can check directly on the college's website.
• Scholarships - College Apps Made Easy understands that most seniors just cannot write another essay, but if you would like help paying for your tuition, you just might have to. Colleges offer their own scholarships and admitted students are frequently automatically considered by default, but its always best to confirm that directly with the school.
Scholarships can be found in many different places, but it does require a bit of effort on the part of the student. There are still a few scholarships with due dates later this month, otherwise be sure to check out those with March deadlines.
• Campus visits - Before making that big decision in April, consider revisiting the campuses of the schools where you've been admitted. As an accepted student your perspective will be different and so should your questions. This campus will be your home for the next four years, so make sure it has everything you want and need. If you've already chosen which college you will attend in the Fall, make sure to send in the necessary documents to secure your spot.
• Haven’t applied yet? Fortunately, there are still many good schools with late application deadlines. It’s never too late to start your college education.