There is Federal Financial Aid available - but you need to apply to be eligible. Begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online at www.fafsa.gov or by contacting your school counselor.
There are three types of Federal Student Aid.
Undergraduates may receive all three types of financial aid. Not all schools participate in the Federal Student Aid Programs or take part in all the programs. To find out which programs (if any) are available, contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.
You cannot receive Federal Student Aid unless all your information is complete and accurate. Get free help from your high school counselor, the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend, or the U.S. Department of Education at www.studentaid.ed.gov or 1-800-433-3243. Free help is available any time during the application process. You should never pay for help.
The fastest way to complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is online at www.fafsa.gov. A paper FAFSA is available from the Federal Student Aid Information Center (800-433-3243) or from your local library, high school, college or career school.
Whether you apply online or by paper, your data will be sent electronically to the schools you listed on your FAFSA.
Get a Federal Student Aid PIN (Personal Identification Number). A PIN lets you apply, "sign" your online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), make corrections to your application information, etc. Keep it safe. Go to www.pin.ed.gov to get one. Safeguard and remember your PIN!
Collect the documents needed to apply, including income tax returns, W-2 forms and other records of income. A full list of what you need is at www.fafsa.gov. If your tax return in not completed at the time you apply, estimate the tax information, apply and correct the information later.
Within a few days, the U.S. Department of Education will send you your Student Aid Report (SAR) - the result of your FAFSA. Review your SAR carefully to make sure it is correct and complete. Your complete, correct SAR will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - the number used to determine your federal student aid eligibility. If additional information is requested, be sure to respond by any deadlines or you might not receive federal aid.
Contact the financial aid administrator at the school you are interested in attending. They will review your SAR and prepare a letter outlining the amount of aid (from all sources) that their school will offer you.
If you are eligible for federal student financial aid, each school will send you an award letter. The award letter tells you the types of financial aid they will offer and how much you will receive. This combination of aid is your financial aid package.
© 2015, Brian Ramirez.