Financial Planning for College and Career

February 2, 2012

Spring is a busy season for students. For many this is their time to apply for financial aid and make sure that they have gotten all of their forms in before the deadline. Early applications for financial aid can lead to bigger financial awards in the Fall. By March, thousands of students will already have filed for financial aid, which means that it’s important to get your application in on time as well as having the correct information to increase your award.

For many students, financial aid is the only way that they will be able to pay for all the costs associated with college. It isn’t only about the tuition. Grants and loans will enable them to pay for books, rent, food expenses and other fees associated with school. The application process begins online at the FAFSA website. You have to have a few documents in order to apply. For one, you’ll need your tax records as well as your school I.D. and any other financial information that will determine the amount of your aid.

More students than ever are applying early to get ahead on financial aid. The official deadline isn’t until June 30th, but if you want to be first in line for grants such as the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant then you apply before March. Most states and schools also have their own early deadlines and serve up financial aid on a first-come, first serve basis. Competition is based on lowest income and higher need, but it’s also based on when you apply. Those who get in first will get the most aid.

This year, activity for financial aid is up 40 percent according to Student Financial Aid Services. That means that more students than ever are filing and trying to compete for a small sum of money. FAFSA becomes available every year on January 1st. There are plenty of ways that you can learn about the financial aid process. You can look through our archives or take a workshop offered by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

You should start planning for financial aid by setting up your calendar and reminders for the deadlines associated with the application. You should figure out all of the information that your school requires for financial aid first. Of course, you have to fill out your financial aid application for multiple schools if you are not currently admitted to a school. You can send your financial aid SAR report from FAFSA to multiple schools to show your financial aid needs for a potential school.

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