Financial aid is available to help meet college expenses including tuition, fees, books, food, housing, and transportation. It is important for all students who plan on post-secondary education (community college, four-year college, or vocational school) to explore financial aid options. You must apply for financial aid by filing a FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is used by post-secondary institutions to determine your eligibility for financial aid and by the state and federal government for grants. This is the primary financial aid application for both public and private universities and may qualify you for the various types of aid listed below. Private Universities may require forms in addition to the FAFSA including the CSS Profile application (more information below). Financial aid is available in several different forms. Gift aid includes grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid. Self-help aid includes Federal Work-Study programs as well loans that must be repaid.
Federal Pell Grant
Pell Grants are awards to help undergraduates who demonstrate financial need pay for their education after high school. For many students, these grants provide a foundation of financial aid, to which aid from other federal and non-Federal sources may be added. To apply for a Pell Grant, you simply check “yes” to the appropriate question on your FAFSA. Your financial information is then automatically forwarded to the Pell Grant Program and the institutions that you list in the spaces provided on the form. The college financial aid office determines the size of the award.
Federal Perkins Loan
The Perkins Loan is a fixed low-interest loan to help you pay for your education after high school. These loans are made through a school’s financial aid office. Preference is given to students with exceptional need. Repayment begins after graduation (or ending college) and continues for 10 years.
Federal Stafford Loan
A Stafford Loan is a variable-interest loan, capped at 8.25%, made to you by a lender such as bank, credit union, or savings and loan association to help you pay for your education after high school. Loans are available in both subsidized and unsubsidized arrangements. The college will determine whether you are eligible for a Pell Grant before you can receive a Stafford loan. You can get a Stafford loan application from any college. After you fill out your part of the application, you must attend an entrance interview and the college you plan to attend must complete its certification section. If the bank agrees to make the loan, the lender will send the loan proceeds to the college in two or more payments. Colleges will assist you in selecting a lending institution. After the bank receives your application and the bank can “guarantee” the loan, it can take 4 to 8 weeks to receive the loan proceeds; so give yourself as much time as possible to complete the loan application process.
Federal PLUS Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students
PLUS loans are for parent borrowers and are not need based. PLUS loans provide additional funds for educational purposes. They are variable interest rates, capped at 9%. PLUS loans are made by a bank, credit union, or savings and loan association through a process similar to Stafford loans. Parents may borrow up to the cost of attendance. Repayment begins 60 days after final disbursement.
Vocational Rehabilitation Grants
Grants are awarded to physically or emotionally handicapped individuals through the State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services to attend any qualified college, trade or technical school.
Scholarships are financial aid based on a variety of criteria. The planned area of study in college, academic excellence, ethnicity, and special activities in high school are some of the criteria that might qualify for scholarships. Additionally, parents’ employers, professional associations, or labor unions may sponsor scholarships. Fastweb is a very comprehensive, free scholarship search service for students that can be accessed at http://www.fastweb.com. In addition, check the scholarship board in the career center weekly, as well as the Lynbrook Website, for current information on scholarships.
FILING THE FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required by both public and private universities and colleges before scholarships or financial aid is awarded. For more information about the FAFSA and instructions, the website is www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The filing priority date for most NYC colleges is October 2018. Some private and out of state college have an earlier, priority deadline. Check individual college websites.
In order to file the FAFSA, both students and parents must have a pin number to use as your signature. Pin numbers must be requested on the federal student aid website at www.pin.ed.gov and take up to 5 business days to process.
Within four weeks of filing by mail and a few days after filing online, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processor. The SAR will list the student’s expected family contribution, or EFC. The SAR will also be sent to the colleges you indicated on the FAFSA.
A standard formula is used to calculate the EFC, based on the information the student provides on the FAFSA. The colleges will use the EFC to determine if you will be offered grants, loans, and/or work study program.
The earlier you file a FAFSA, the more likely you are to hear from the Commission early. Since most colleges have a May 2 deadline for intention to register, it is to your advantage to know as soon as possible about financial aid so that you can make an informed decision regarding which college you will attend. The FAFSA is a free application. If you are on a site that is requiring a fee, redirect your browser to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Definition of Need
Simply defined, financial need is the difference between what it will cost a student to attend a college and the amount the family can contribute toward the student’s education as determined by the financial aid office. The important point to remember is that financial need will usually increase as college costs increase. The family’s income, assets, debts, family size, and extenuating circumstances are all taken into consideration in determining financial need. Parents with special or unusual circumstances may wish to discuss their situation with the financial aid officer at the colleges their son/daughter is interested in attending.
FINANCIAL AID CHECKLIST
If you think you need aid to continue your education, your chances of getting it are best if you apply in the right way at the right time.
ASK FOR INFORMATION. Look up financial aid opportunities and application procedures online for each college on your list. Generally, the financial aid office at your college is the best source of financial aid available. For help, you may visit the Lynbrook College and Career Center. Begin the research process in the fall.
FILE ALL REQUIRED FINANCIAL AID FORMS. The form currently used is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) of the College Scholarship Service. You can obtain this form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov . The form should not be filed until after January 1 of your senior year.
- Some colleges require additional financial aid forms. Complete the forms as early as possible and return them to the college by their specified deadline.
FILE COMPLETED FAFSA AFTER OCTOBER 1, 2018.
- Apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov at least four weeks before the earliest financial aid deadline set by the colleges or state scholarship or grant programs to which you are applying (but not before January 1). Carefully follow the instructions for filling out the form. Make sure that your answers are complete and correct. Don’t forget to request a pin number at least 1 week prior to filing the FAFSA. Pin numbers can be requested online at www.pin.ed.gov.
- DO NOT WAIT for current income taxes to be filed. Meet the priority deadline using estimated figures from the previous year if you must to be considered for all financial aid programs. You may change figures on the SAR (see below) to more accurately reflect your financial status.
- On the FAFSA, you may list a limited number of colleges to receive your financial information. If you are applying to more than the FAFSA allows, you must file the initial FAFSA listing only some of your colleges. Once you receive the SAR (see next bullet), change the colleges listed to the remaining colleges on your list (almost as if you are making a correction). Repeat this process until all colleges have received your information to be considered for financial aid.
REVIEW YOUR SAR. Once you file your FAFSA, you will receive an electronic copy of your Student Aid Report. This is a summary of the financial information you reported and includes your Expected Family
Contribution or EFC. Colleges you list on your FAFSA will also receive a copy of your SAR and will use the information, including your EFC, to determine a financial award package. It is extremely important that information reported be accurate. Review your SAR carefully and file any necessary changes or corrections immediately.
RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIPS. In additional to the FAFSA and other financial aid applications, there are many scholarships available to help students pay for college. Research scholarships in the College and Career Center and online to find those you may qualify for. In addition, research the colleges you apply to for scholarships and follow the application procedures.