- Check with your financial aid office to ensure you have completed any forms needed to start the financial aid process. This is an important step in alerting the school to your need for some monetary assistance. You may want to log in to your college’s web-site under the Financial Aid section for the best information and advice.
- Complete the FAFSA. This is an integral step in obtaining financial aid. Without it your college can’t determine your eligibility for grants, loans, work study, or need-based scholarships. You can check here to find the FAFSA deadline for your state. But don’t wait! It’s really important to take this step early because a lot of the financial assistance is limited: when it’s gone, it’s gone. You want to be at the first of this line.
- You and your parents will want to obtain Federal Pin Numbers as you can use them to electronically sign the forms and send them to your school as quickly as possible. Obtaining this PIN is also a free service. Tuck this PIN number in a safe place because you'll need it every year to repeat this process.
- Check with your college. You may be required to complete the PROFILE application through the College Board website. This is a two-step process. First, you complete the online documents and submit them along with a processing fee. Next, you will complete an idoc packet to verify the information on your PROFILE. Again, time is of the essence as awards cannot be calculated until everything has been submitted and reviewed.
- Check frequently with your school’s financial aid website to ensure you have completed all of the steps necessary to maximize your opportunity to finance your education.
When you complete the FAFSA, you will be asked to provide income information for your parents (if you are still considered a dependent). If your parents are no longer married, you are only asked to provide income information for the parent with whom you live most of the time. Also, be sure you are on the correct website. Some unscrupulous people will try to convince you to pay for making this application if you are unlucky enough to land on their website. Submitting the FAFSA is free!
When you complete the PROFILE application, you are required to provide income information for both of your parents regardless of their marital status or living arrangements. It is assumed that both parents will be responsible to aid you in your educational endeavors. If your parents are no longer together, you will complete the PROFILE application with one parent and a separate web session will be available for your other parent to complete. This ensures both parents’ private information remains private. In rare instances, special circumstances would allow you to submit the income information for only one parent. If you feel you may be the exception, contact your college’s financial aid office; they are happy to work with you to see if you would qualify for this exception.
Again, complete your financial aid applications as quickly as possible because once a college has awarded all of its funds, there is nothing that can be done for subsequent applicants.
by: Sherry Thompson